Overcoming Darkness

“…the morning with the whole day waiting, full of promise, the night of quiet, of no expectations, of rest. And the certainty of home, the one I live in, and the one that lives in me.”

~Karen Hesse

I have been afraid to run since the early morning hours have become filled with darkness. I’ve felt unsettle, unsure, and scared. Running in the dark isn’t new to me. I’ve spent many seasons logging most of my miles before sunrise or after sunset, but this season has felt different.

I am certain my new found fear has nothing to do with the dark. I am certain it’s a reflection of my uncertainty in my ability to race. It’s a lack of confidence to take ownership of my goals.

Last weekend I turned a corner. When my heart finally committed to racing, to going for it, my head followed. It was time to silence my fears, and the obvious place to start was running before sunrise.

Last Wednesday I was determined to run my tempo run before work. I woke up. I got ready. I stood at the door paralyzed. I didn’t feel confident in my route or the darkness. Mind over matter wasn’t working. I was scared. I abandoned my running plans.

“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave.”

~Cheryl Strayed

I had to rewrite my story.

Rewriting isn’t always an easy process. I had to start with the basics. I found two team members and neighbors who run routes near me in the early morning hours. I asked where they ran. I asked if they feel safe. They both reassured me that the main roads are well-lit and safe.

Obstacle #1 conquered. A new-to-me route was found.

This morning I was ready to test out the new route, but I had to commit. I had to not hit snooze. I had to get out of bed. I told anyone who would listen. I was getting up, and I was conquering speedwork. My cousin became my sounding board. He was also waking up early to tackle his day. We raced to see who could be the first one to text when we woke up.

Obstacle #2 conquered. I was out of bed ready to run.

As I left my neighborhood, I was focused. I had a mission. Fear was still there, but it wasn’t driving my morning. It took a backseat to all the other narratives I had created for the morning.

This morning I conquered my workout. I took a while to relax. It took a while to wake up my body.  It took a while to find ease in my running, but I got there. I beat the voice that said the dark was scary. I beat the voice that told me it was impossible to run six more intervals when the first two felt nearly impossible.  Half way through the workout, I turned off the voice that was tired, hungry and thirsty. I focused on what felt good. I found beauty in the stars and the moon. The streets came to life with people starting their day, and I let it fuel me. I finished my run with my fastest split wishing there was more time before work to keep going. I finished the workout finding beauty in the darkness.

“I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And I gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang.”

~Mary Oliver

I’ve been chasing the finish line and the race clock for so long that I forgot. I forgot about all the beauty that happens when you conquer something. There are no more “new distances” for me to achieve. I’ve run as far as I want to run, but there are still so many successes along the path to race day. I forgot. I forgot that it’s very rarely the finish line that brings the satisfaction. It’s the successes leading up to race day that fuel the race.

If I’m not committed to racing, if I’m not actively making fear ride in the backseat, I’m cheating myself out of the fulfillment I get from running (and life). I need to risk failing in order to succeed. I needed to be all in before I could whole heartedly love this journey.

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Enjoy the Ride

 

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