run (and self love)

note: there’s a rant about this poem at the bottom that you can read if you’d like

my shoes hit the pavement
my arms hit air
swallow freezing air
fill my lungs

i check my watch and speed up
faster i go and better i feel
my lungs are on fire but so am i
screaming blue and flying green
i feel like i’m

friends ask why i run
what am i running from?
when i run i feel
the feeling of
wanting to stop
but wanting nothing more than to keep going
to exist in that liminal space
between falling and flying
between joy and devestation

i dream of trails and races
i’m not fast
i dream of flight
i don’t fly

for so long i ran from
i ran from
i ran from fear
i ran from love
i ran from parent
i ran from

learning to live with yourself
is learning to run towards yourself
not from

maybe i write about running
sometimes i write about flying
sometimes these words are literal
sometimes these words are simply words

but my feet hit the pavement
i look ahead and know

the only thing i’m running towards
is sean

i don’t think this poem is particularly well written, mainly because it’s not supposed to be. I decided to write this poem in a moment of extreme self love; holy fuck i feel good about myself right now.

the process of running this year has changed my life. I was told by a professional that I likely had depression towards the beginning of this school year, the type that makes you wanna end it in every moment you’re alone. The type that makes it hard to take deep breaths and taste food and trust anybody.

that realization coincided with a knee injury that sidelined me for the entire cross country season. i was initially diagnosed with chondromalacia, but an MRI later revealed that I was actually suffering from IT Band Syndrome, which made running more than ten minutes agonizing. The recovery was difficult – hours on the stationary bike, hours spent strengthening my hips and core and hamstrings and everything you usually don’t think about as a runner. When you see the clips of athletes like Klay Thompson coming back from injury, they never show the parts where he spends an hour trying to do a squat without falling over. I came pretty close to giving up. Dealing with what feels like an impossible task becomes all the more impossible when you’re depressed out of your mind.

I started to look at my recovery like a challenge, like a python challenge or a tough physics problem. I thought about how good i would feel when i could run with the team. I thought about how good it felt to be able to run 2 more minutes every day. Every setback I had, I started thinking about as a reminder to work harder.

I dedicated myself to getting back to running. I did my PT every day. I talked to my coaches every day about the best treatment plan. I spent hours getting my aerobic capacity up without aggravating my knee. While my teammates were running in Rock Creek Park having a good time, I was alone in the gym on the stationary bike, listening to music and dreaming of being with them.

By December, I was back. With the help of a new amazing physical therapist, I could finally run again. I started out slow. 20 minutes became 25 minutes became 30 minutes became tough track workouts with Coach Keklak and Emily. Jogs at 10 minute pace quickened to 9:30, then 9:15, until all my runs were under 9 minute pace – almost back to where I was pre-injury.

Running had become my escape. Whenever I wanted to hurt myself, I’d think about running. In class, remembering manipulative exes or misgendering or hurtful comments, I’d think about running. With the tiniest little movements, I’d swing my shoulders as if I was back on the track.

Milestone after milestone in my recovery came. I hit 6 miles in one run. I smashed my splits in an 800 workout. I ran with guys I never could keep up with. Yesterday, I ran 8 miles at sub 8 minute pace – something I never dreamed I would be able to do. I’m still pushing myself harder than I ever thought I could.

I’m starting to realize why I’ve fallen in love with running. It doesn’t have anything to do with running itself. Running, in all honesty, is a boring sport. The reason I think I love running is because it is the one thing that has made me reliant on just myself. Nobody else is responsible for where I am as a runner – I did that myself. Running has taught me that I’m valuable, just as myself. Running makes me proud of myself. It’s made me some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Every uplifting piece of feedback from my coach, every Strava comment from my teammates, every new record and PR, it all reminds me that I can be successful. Seeing how far I’ve come with this sport has finally made me love some parts of myself.

This was a lot. This was revealing and vulnerable and it’s pretty scary to post this. A lot of the time I hope nobody reads these. I don’t want to come across as bragging or pretentious, but I hope this can help someone. I was in some really tough places this year. Everyone deserves to find self love: can’t fill anyone else’s cup if yours is empty.

Love y’all, hope you enjoyed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: