About 20 yards in I decided to jog. I had a cold. My chest was congested, but I needed to do something to make myself feel productive. The walking path at my local YMCA goes through the woods, and I’m a plant lover. I’m not a runner. I’m not a jogger. I’m not even a regular walker. I just decided to do it on this sunny, cool morning. I jogged at what a pace that felt like jogging until I was panting, and then I began walking the loop which would eventually led back to my car.
My schedule didn’t allow me to get back to the ‘Y’ until Thursday. I wanted to see how far I could jog again and decided that the Water Tower would be a good goal.
A certain type of tree was blooming. I’ve yet to identify it, but it filled the woods with a scent that reminded me of Tea Olive. It was so much more welcoming than the varied smells of the gym inside, and I was so grateful to anything that might keep me going longer.
I reminded myself to keep my mind on what I was doing, and that called my attention to my pace. If I slowed it down just a hair, how much farther could I run? This sort of jog felt good. I wasn’t striving. I wasn’t struggling. I was just moving forward. There was so much to see, familiar friends. I smiled at the happy ferns.
Then I listen to the rustles of brown thrashers and squirrels in the fallen leaves. I hear the cries of Blue Jays, and the steps of other runners, and who was I kidding? I was still thinking. The voice wasn’t critical. It was practical. In fact, it seemed to be the voice of my body parts versus my brain.
My feet said, “Hey, we are perfectly capable of getting you there.” Of course they were. Then I paid attention to my arms and shoulders. I twisted my torso a little more. “This isn’t hard,” they said. We can go much farther.” I liked how it felt when they broke through the hair.
I kept going past the pond and started toward a mild incline. This wasn’t far. I thought of women all over the world, refugees who had traveled hundreds of miles on foot. My quads spoke up. I felt them working harder now. “We were made for this,” they told me. “We’ll get you there. Don’t question it.”Then, all of the sudden I was standing right at the base of the water tower. Ten steps more and it would have been half a mile.
Today I went back and started again. I began jogging right away and passed all of the same markers with a smile on my face. It didn’t feel hard. I got to the water tower so fast, and I kept jogging. There was a bench I could have sat on, but I didn’t. I paid attention to what happened as other walkers and runners passed me.
When I first began jogging, a walker was about 50 paces in front of me. Should I pass him? The temptation was to sprint by and have the path to myself, or maybe I saw this as a polite thing to do for him. I didn’t. I kept my pace and I passed him soon enough. Then other runners would go by me, and the temptation was to pick up my pace. Why? I didn’t consciously care, but I found myself having to refocus on my speed. Keep what’s working. Pretty soon I passed my car in the parking lot, the entrance, and then I was off into the trees on the other side. When I finished the loop I’d run an entire mile.
Pace is important. Social media shows us how fast other people are going. It can make you jealous over and over. The thing about being jealous is that it concentrates your heart and soul on other people, and your own progress slows. You’re treating yourself like you’re not good enough, and you feel not good enough, not sexy enough, not in the circle. Oh, I don’t know what it is with me. I hate not being in the circle. It’s the biggest trigger for me. I try to choose different thoughts now, and even better I listen to my body instead of my mind for a time,