Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Running chronicles; Inspiration


~ ~ an inspiring or animating action or influence: I cannot write poetry without inspiration.
~ ~ something inspired, as an idea.
~ ~ a result of inspired activity.
~ ~ a thing or person that inspires.

I am a runner.  There, I said it.  Even on the days when I feel like a sloth, like I'm not worthy of the numbers pinned to the front of my shirt, and the days when I walk more than I run in a given distance, I am a runner.  I'm not the skinniest, fittest, or fastest, but I run and I love it. 

That said, I've written about becoming a runner, and I've shared much of my progress here and on Facebook.  In return, I have had many people ask me questions about how and why I started running, if I'd ever run before, why I keep running, how the hell I find time to run, questions that run the gamut from interesting to absurd and everything in between.  It's all in good fun and sometimes, I don't even know how to answer. 

The other kind of feedback I've gotten is not in the form of a question, but, a truly flattering statement which takes me aback each and every time I hear it.  "You're such an inspiration" {and varying hybrids thereof} is a statement that several people have made to me, and I still have a hard time believing they're saying it to me.  Inspiration is not something I've ever associated myself with, to be totally honest.  I could come up with names of others who have inspired me in some ways, but I don't really have areas of my life which were inspired, or for which I can recall drawing inspiration.  I also don't really think anyone would ever name me as an inspiration for something that they've done.  Or would they?

Reporters ask musicians and actors/actresses who they (and/or their craft/work) are inspired by, but I am by no means a celebrity worthy of that kind of question, nor would my name be suitable as the answer.  Or am I?  I mean, I'm a woman making her way through the big bad world of marriage, parenthood, working, running, and having some fun while I'm at it.  I'm not doing anything that millions of others don't do.   

Then I get an e-mail from a coworker or friend telling me that they are amazed and inspired by all the running I do, and asking me to help them get started.  They want to know how I do it, how I get out in the early hours of the day, how the hell I get out of the house with two kids, a husband, and a sink full of dishes calling my name!  To be honest, my first answer is usually, "I run!"!   

I'm not trying to toot my own horn by saying that I have received many e-mails from friends asking me to give them some tips on getting started, to share how I started, and to "inspire" them to begin the journey themselves {ie: to get the hell off the couch}.  Most often, my response is filled with tips on the right shoes, cool gear, and touting my love for running outdoors.  It's really just the basics.  I am not an expert, I just share what I know and what I've learned.  If they come back and ask for more, I'll share with them my love for the escape of it, the stress release, and the feeling I get when I accomplish a goal I've set for myself.

The most direct contact, the face to face compliments, the personal encounters with friends who tell me that they are in awe of what I'm doing by running so much, and that I'm "an inspiration", that's what gives me chills, and leaves me nearly unable to answer.  Those who know me know that I'm rarely at a loss for words, but when someone tells me that I'm an inspiration, I have to pinch myself to believe they are talking to and about me.

There are women out there running who have overcome obstacles that I hope I never have to face; terminal illnesses, life changing events, countless struggles, injuries, you name it.  Many of these women are running distances that I can't fathom covering in my car, let alone with my own two feet.  If I were pinned down and had to note my inspiration for running, I would have to say it's all the women that I've read about or met who face(d) challenges much greater than just finding the time to get out and run.  Honestly, how can you not be inspired to run after you hear about a single mom of three kids who runs four times a week (usually pushing a jogging stroller), has completed three marathons, and is a breast cancer survivor?  That woman is nobody specific, but there are women in that position out there, and if they can do it, I know I can do it.

To hear that I am an inspiration to someone, or that I have inspired them in some way, is not just flattering, it's empowering, it's rewarding.  It makes me feel better on those days when I'm not quite feeling like a runner, or when I am struggling to find the energy or desire to go out into the elements to get a few miles in, and when I am doubting my choice to strive for a new PR in the next race. 

So please let this be a thank you to those who have found inspiration in my sweat and smelly shoes, and those who are inspired by the miles I've added up.  Let this be an acknowledgement of all the kind words people have shared with me, and the compliments I've received even when I don't have such kind words for myself.  And while I am just a wife, working mom, average Joe in the game called life, I still believe that if I can do it, you can do it.  May you all find your Hot Confidence.

Now go on with your bad self and RUN!!