A lot of runners hear the phrase, “just run through it,” countless times. When your right knee is aching, but you know it’s nothing serious, you run through it. When your lungs are burning from the cold morning air, you run right through that. And when your calf cramps up during a race, you eat a gel and you run through it, albeit a little slower than usual.
It’s almost a mantra. Running through it means nothing is too serious, nothing hurts too badly. Running through it means you’ll survive, even if you throw up a little bit at the end of your run. If you can run through it, it means you’re a little bit tougher than you were when you started.
I thought about this while I ran through the damp, cold streets of Boston this morning. Why was I out in the gray morning, clouds spitting tiny drops of snow on my face, powerful winds blowing through my lululemon layers? Who doesn’t want to be in their warm, rumpled sheets on a blustery November morning?
Running is a coping mechanism. Each intake of breath, each time your foot strikes the ground, it’s a reminder that you’re okay. That you can keep on going and that you’ll be better for it. Running reduces life to moments; moments you know you can get through, instead of the overwhelming rush of a day’s events, a growing to-do list, goals still unfulfilled. All you can hear when you’re running is your own body churning over the ground and you are alone with your thoughts. And that’s why I ran this morning. It’s why I run many mornings. It’s a gut check, to make sure everything is okay.
Runners want the connection; to their bodies, to the pavement, to the awareness that they’re alive. It’s a craving. Runners finish their races or training excursions and know everything is fine. They know that life can be reduced to little morsels of time and effort, little manageable morsels. With each step, your confidence builds.
Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. And before you know it, you’re home.