My sisters and I didn’t know exactly why our parents spent their Saturday mornings driving around the neighborhood, strategically leaving water bottles along the way. We didn’t know why they were gone most of the morning and then exhausted when they came in. I mean, we knew they were running…but from what, we didn’t know. Were they running from failed marriages or from the challenges of a new one? Or were they simply running to get away from us? We didn’t give it much more than a shrug of our shoulders at the time, but thirty years later, I tend to think they weren’t running from anything, but rather running towards something.
Running is a simple sport that most healthy individuals can participate in. No matter what their level of activity is, they can do it. One foot in front of the other. But the power it has of transforming someone into a whole new way of being, is amazing. For my parents, some twenty years ago, it was definitely a way to create something different in their lives, as they tried to bridge two families together and create a “til death do us part” relationship. It was different for them, as they had basically not done much in the way of exercise at all, and since they were healthy and already thin, it really became taking each new step together…one mile at a time. Similar to how they created their life together, with family meetings, way ahead of their time and Sunday family activities, even against our will. But in the end, they became a united front, completing almost a dozen marathons and becoming the “Home Team” for all of us. I believe now, that running gave them much more than strength in their legs.
For me, running was too lonely of a hobby. All that time spent alone, meant time to think about the weather that was either too hot or too cold. It meant time to be deep in my head and uncover all the complaints I’d been dodging and it was simply time to be alone…which I never really cared for. I prided myself on my strength and confidence coming from being surrounded by others. I was the “social”one. The one that was never alone. The one, I believe, that was too afraid to be alone.
Although I always worked out, I only ran when on vacation or very short on time and never more than three miles. I don’t really know why, but I had convinced myself I couldn’t go longer than that. Until the year 2000, when I declared that perhaps if I too could complete a marathon, it could act as a metaphor for my life. That perhaps it would create possibility in my life where I didn’t know possibility even existed. Little did I know how true that would become.
Just five years after actually becoming a runner, I faced the misfortune of having to leave my marriage of 14 years. It was an impossible decision, it seemed, to leave a man who loved me dearly, to break apart a family that involved two fabulous children and to turn towards a path alone. My unhappiness had been eating at me silently for years, until one day I knew I had to find the courage to leave. I also knew no one would understand. I spent that summer basically alone in my head, repeating my favorite mantra, “in the face of fear, I will be courageous,” but knew deep inside I was as scared as possible.
After a long summer of learning to be a packer, a buyer and a seller, I quickly began to feel the strength coming back to me. One step at a time, I was handling a million tasks that seemed impossible to accomplish alone. But there was nothing that created more possibility in my life than the day the movers moved me into my new house. The one that I had bought. It seemed to take days for them to get my furniture just so, but just as the sun started to set, they were done and heading out with their empty truck. I remember sitting on the couch, just staring at the walls, listening to the silence of the house and the silence of my inner voice. For a while I didn’t move, wondering when the fear would hit me, but then without thinking, I went up the stairs, changed my clothes and laced up my running shoes. There was only one thing to do. Run.
I headed out onto my quiet new street without even my ipod. For I was alone, just where I wanted to be, feeling empowered and strong. As I returned from my run and headed around the corner, I spotted my home and began to run faster and faster. Tears ran down my face as I acknowledged that I was no longer running from anything either, but instead, towards something…my future.
Lesley Moore is President and Owner of LifeScope, Life Coaching. She specializes in working with individuals in transition, empowering them to create a life they love. She is also a Personal Fitness Trainer and a Freelance Writer. Lesley graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Journalism and has studied coaching through the Mentor Coach Program, which is recognized by the International Coach Federation. For more information about Life Coaching, visit her website at http://www.lifescopecoach.com/.