It all starts off so methodically.
Turn off the alarm,
Wipe the sleep out my eyes,
Pull on my sneakers,
Open the front door,
Listen as my feet begin to hit the ground,
Thump, thump, thump.
The music from my headphones clogs my ears with chaotic noise but somehow I can still feel the repetition of sneakers on pavement echoing through my entire body. I might be crazy.
Thump, thump, thump.
The thin, rocky mountain air strains my lungs as I fight my own body’s endurance for each and every clanking breath. It’s a rich cacophony of grunts and gasps. Pushing forward step-by-step I can feel the blood rushing to my face as my cheeks burn hot and red.
I used to hate this. I’d sit, consumed in the comfort of my bed, wrapped up in blankets and dread dragging my body out of the house. Afraid that I was too slow, that my body might spill out of the clothes I was wearing, that my legs looked like stumps, that I sweat too much. I was so paralyzed by the fear of not being good that I didn’t even bother trying to get better.
And this is a problem that I’ve had my whole life. I’m too afraid to try new things because I’m too afraid to fail.
Running slowly became my way to take back control of that and to let my potential, the ability I knew that I had, exceed my fear. And this girl who hated running signed up to run 13.1 miles. A lot of people thought I was insane – I thought I was insane.
That cold March morning came and I ran the race. I ran for everything I was afraid of, for everything that held me back. I ran for all the times I told myself that my thighs rubbing together as they moved was shameful – not glorious, that the hair matted to my forehead was disgusting – not beautiful, and that I wasn’t worthy of the breaths I gasped for when it became harder to breathe. Eight miles into the run something clicked as I floated into a rhythm that words could not do justice. I couldn’t feel my legs and my face was on fire and suddenly all of those things that made me feel so unworthy made me feel the closest to invincible I’d ever felt before.
I thought I was running to escape something. But I don’t run to escape anything because you simply can’t escape your life like that. I run to confront all of the voices in my head that yell and scream and dig into all of my deepest and all of my most shallow insecurities.
Just last week, as I reached the peak of a mountain I had hiked, I was overtaken by the desire to race down it as fast as my legs could carry me. I dodged roots and branches, controlled my muscles when the path got too slippery or too steep. I tumbled forward as the sky became darker and darker and I let that darkness swallow me, not for the presence of fear, but for the lack of it.
And it’s okay to be afraid of failing, but don’t let that fear strip you of the very things that have the ability to transform you.