Tomorrow I run a half marathon – my first of the year, and my tenth ever. The race is a silly Halloween event, and I’ve already made my peace with not setting a PR. It’s just a fact that I won’t be as fast or as strong as I was a year ago. Last year at this time, I’d just completed three full marathons in twelve months, and I was in the best shape of my life. However, nonstop training took its toll, and I needed time to rest and reset.
Getting back into training has not come naturally. My attention is scattered, and I often feel frustrated with my body for not moving as well as it used to. Add to this the daily national hellscape, and motivation has been a struggle.
The world continues to break our hearts in more ways than we could have imagined a year ago, and we’re all coping best we can. Especially in the early months of 2017, I found myself turning to comfort foods and hiding under the covers. The mental and physical tolls of witnessing leaders disregard human rights (and always fearing something worse is around the corner) cannot be overstated. This uncertainty and fear manifests itself in anxiety, insomnia, or weight gain.
As health strategies go, perhaps “we’re all gonna die, so fuck it and eat the whole pizza” wasn’t my best approach.
Times are tough, but little by little, I’m trying to turn the ship around.
Training for this half marathon has been an exercise in focusing on what I can do. It’s easy to get swept away by larger problems, but every solution starts with ownership and accountability. I alone control how I treat my body. Of course there are external factors that pose limitations, but it’s ultimately up to me how well I eat and how often I move. Over the past few months, I’ve made a series of daily decisions to eat more vegetables, drink more water, and lace up my shoes several times a week, even if it means slogging through a slow two miles when I’d rather be napping.
It’s working — starting to, at least. I’m still not as fast as I’d like to be, but I’m getting closer. And more importantly, I’m still trying. The running community has been always been a wonderful source of positivity, and this year I’ve been especially grateful for the support of others when I haven’t wanted to keep going. The most dangerous thing we can ever do is give up, and these days we need grit and perseverance more than ever.
Tomorrow I will wear a ridiculous costume as I join thousands of my neighbors and friends to celebrate our strength and community. We’ll cheer each other on as we work to achieve a common goal. It will simultaneously hurt and feel fantastic, and that’s the point. All the hours of strength training and early morning runs and boring, sensible meals will come together in one big thirteen mile party. After all, if we aren’t doing everything we can to be happy and healthy, what are we even fighting for?