“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
I’ve always been a runner. It started in high school when I would jog laps upon laps around the high school track to watch my high school boyfriend practice kicking footballs.
I loved how I could control my breathing until I was almost in a relaxed state. I could run for long distances and would hardly get out of breath. I would feel pain in my feet, legs and knees long before I would feel any burning in my lungs.
Not one for organized sports, I never ran for track or cross country competitively. Instead, it became a coping mechanisms for my undiagnosed teenage anxiety and depression. When I was sad or depressed, I would throw on my running shoes and head out to an undetermined destination. Tears clouding my vision, I would run faster and longer until the sadness dried up and I reached that relaxed state where I had control again.
I’ve always been a runner. I learned quickly that you can run from lots of things without even having to put foot to pavement. Instead of dealing with problems or issues, I would run from them. I would be committed without truly being committed. I would let people feel like they were close, without letting them really get close. There always needed to be just enough space in my heart and life—in order to run.
I used to envision myself as a black stallion being freed into the wild—running through an open field with my thick mane blowing in the wind. I loved the feeling of complete freedom.
I guess because I was always a perfectionist and very controlled with everything I did, having a part of me that could throw caution to the wind on occasion was very liberating.
The problem with running for many years is that it catches up with you. You begin to feel pain in your joints, your knees and your feet. Instead of concentrating on your breathing that got you into “the zone,” you begin to concentrate on the pain riddling throughout your body.
Same thing happens when you try to run from life. Avoiding problems, feelings and conflicts will eventually catch up with you. What I’ve realized as I’ve matured is that we run because we are afraid of getting hurt, or being judged—or being abandoned. Instead we self-prophesize a negative ending and avoid it at all costs. What I’ve also realized is that by avoiding the possibility of pain and disappointment, you are preventing yourself from experiencing true joy and success.
So, how do you run the day while keeping your feet firmly grounded? The following are a few tips:
1. Let go of control. I know! I don’t want to either! But, the reality is, true freedom (like the black stallion) only comes when we open ourselves up and allow it in. We have ultimate control over our attitude and how we react to things, but we don’t have control over everything. The sooner we learn how to cope with things that we don’t have control over (COVID-19 anyone?), the better equipped we are to handle, and even benefit from, life’s many mysteries.
2. Be vulnerable. I literally almost threw up in my mouth on that one. Yuck! Okay, let’s take a deep breath. We can do this together. It’s hard to be vulnerable and risk the rejection and pain associated with it. Trust me, I know. But, what if you open yourself up to the possibility of rejection, whether it be with love, a career opportunity or passion you have for writing (so says me) and you find your soul mate, dream job or opportunity for success in something you always wanted to do? Seems like a chance worth taking, wouldn’t you agree?
3. Practice acceptance. Boy, that’s a hard one too! Why can’t this be easy? We run from things because sometimes we don’t want to accept the truth. It’s easier to avoid the question than to accept the answer (I just thought that up. I bet someone already beat me to it! Dang it!) Sometimes, we have to let go of things we can’t have, don’t need or don’t move us forward. By practicing acceptance, we are able to put all our energy into people and things that give back as much as we put in.
4. Stay still. I can’t even stay still while driving across country on my road trip vacation. I sang, I danced to music, I watched tik tok videos, I read my kindle and I asked dumb questions—like “are we there yet?” Quieting our bodies and minds is necessary to finding peace and joy. If we are always running, always moving and always thinking, there is a good chance that something wonderful will pass right by us without us even noticing. By staying still, you are able to appreciate what you have and see the world at a stroll—instead of a roll. Get it? Slow your roll? Okay, I’m only entertaining myself at this point.