Who among us has not heard this quote by Lao Tzu?
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
I’ve always liked it. (Of course I do. . . It has the word “mile” in it.) Such words make my runner ears perk up and immediately I pay attention. As someone who has spent more years than not, measuring and evaluating each mile. . . I place a high priority on the steps I take. Often times those miles would determine what kind of day I was going to have. A good run equaled a good day and a bad run resulted in fighting my way out of a funk. Running has always been a huge priority. It has been a part of me. In a lot of ways. . . it defined me. Heck, look at the name of my blog.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you might know that I was sidelined with an injury back in August. Two surgeries and six months later I finally got the okay to ease my way back into it. I’ll admit that the getting back into shape thing makes me nervous. I haven’t taken this much time off the sport since, well, since I started when I was 11 years old.
When I woke up this morning and heard the rain beating against the window and saw only slight remnants of the snow on the ground. . . I knew today was the day. Tzu’s quote was playing and replaying in my head as I dug to the bottom of my drawer for my running clothes and dusted off my New Balance shoes.
As I made my way down the stairs to our treadmill, my adrenaline was already pumping. . . will my foot be okay? Am I really ready? What if it hurts? What if I re-injure?
(The journey. . . beings with one step. . . one step. . . one step. . . )
After stretching a bit I climbed onto the treadmill and was happy that I remembered the safety code to get it started. My heart was already racing as I began with a slow walk. . .
One step, two steps, faster, faster, faster. . . until I was running. I relished the familiar hum of the treadmill and did a happy dance on the inside as I realized, I’m doing it. . . I’m really doing it. It was slow. Very, very slow. But I felt a rush of excitement as I listened to the pounding of my feet and felt the increasing speed of my heart. It was short, but oh, so sweet. . . Day 1. . . 1.5 miles. . .COMPLETE.
Tzu was right. . . the journey does begin with one step and I have a long way to go, but as I’ve experienced this hiatus. . . I’ve realized a few things. You see, I’ve been a runner for a long, long, time. I love the sport. I love what it has done for my mind, body, and soul. I have learned so many life lessons through the steps I have taken to log thousands and thousands of miles. But the latest lessons. . . the lessons that came by NOT taking a step. . . these overshadow them all.
Before this injury I felt that I would never survive not running. It was literally one of my greatest fears. (Spare the lecture, I know I had no perspective.) I would often think to myself, what if I couldn’t run anymore? Running wasn’t just what I did, it was who I was. I hid myself in the shadow of it. I got lost in the constant striving for one more mile. . . beating yesterday’s time. . . breaking through that barrier. . . blah, blah, blah.
The goals were endless. And while I am a big fan of setting goals and working toward something. . . I have come to understand the importance of balance. Life needs balance. . . I was in great need of balance. I was confident as a runner. Running was the place that I stood tall, felt strong, and believed that anything was possible. Really, when all was said and done I was only okay when I could say, I’m a runner. This injury has changed that. Today, I can truly say, running or no running, I’m okay. . .
just being me.
I don’t think I could have said that seven months ago.
This time. . . my journey of a thousand miles came WITHOUT one step.