Every time a runner heads out the door, there is baggage that comes along. Sometimes it is yesterday’s cupcake or a muscle ache from the weekend’s overambitious long run. Occasionally the extra baggage is an overlong “TO DO” list, or the remnants of a stupid family argument.
But sometimes the baggage is even heavier. Sometimes we carry the burden of a long hard year of crisis. Pandemics, climate change, social injustice and personal tragedies all follow us out the door of our quarantined homes.
I stretch and loosen tensed muscles. I try to widen my range of motion, but no matter how swiftly I move, no matter how deftly I slip through the door, my doubts, anxiety and sadness manage to come with me.
I try to shake them off. I speed up in an effort to leave them at the corner with the stop sign, but they persevere. They are my passengers. They go where I go.
These things can and will go through the door with you, but usually, somewhere during the run, they will become less critical, and less of a burden. After all, that is why many of us continue to run.
The true positive universal return from running is peace of mind. Running is a form of therapy.
Now, however, I have learned a new, hard lesson. While running can bring a momentary peace, this year’s burdens sit back on my shoulders the moment I stop moving.
I can leave my house and run down the path, but I can’t leave our country’s disjointed unrest behind. Opposing lawn signs decorate the houses of my neighborhood. I scrutinize each tee-shirt wearing person for political or social messages.
Running has become hard.
We are often our own worst enemies. We sit at home when we should be out doing; drink when we should be sober; eat when we should be dieting.
I am also quiet when I should be vocal, and accepting when I should be outraged.
I am stationary when I should be running.
What we must not do, is remain silent, even though that is the easiest path to take.
It has been a terrible year.
We can’t change what has happened, but we can impact what will happen next.
We need to speak out. We need to raise our voices. We need to run forward.
Even though it is hard — it is time to once again head out the door.