June 30, 2016

On grit and getting back up again

I was out trail running with Bijoux yesterday and I got to thinking about grit. Actually I got to thinking about grit before the run, steeling myself mentally to get out there and go. This has not been an easy year. Frankly, neither was 2015. And neither was 2014. But I keep going because that’s what there is to do.

bijoux swan creek
Bijoux on the Swan Creek trails

In the beginning of June I was diagnosed with three different autoimmune diseases, each of which targets my joints, among other symptoms. For almost a year, I’d struggled to function at capacity. I kept asking myself: What is wrong with me?? Am I not the strong person I have always identified myself to be? I hurt so badly I could barely get out of bed, needless to say run. I stopped running for weeks. But here I am running again.

I did not consider myself a runner until college. When I was 19, I hit the track at the gym and ran more than 2 miles for the first time in my life. My pace was something like 12 minutes a mile. But I did it and I was hooked. I told myself I’d run a marathon. I ran one that fall. I’ve been running ever since, involved in a complex, love-hate relationship with the sport. I averaged 25 or 30 miles a week. It’s nowhere near that now. I’ve had to adjust my way of thinking. I think about what I have gained when I run another day. I don’t think about what I’ve lost when I could not run for many days.

Yesterday I ran even though my head was swimming and I felt sick in the swampy heat. As I powered through, I thought to myself: Grit is running one more step when you think you can’t run one more step. 

Yesterday, I walked on the trail. I used to consider walking on a run to be a failure. But the steep hills are still more than I can handle right now. As I trudged up a long one, huffing and puffing even while walking, I thought to myself: Grit is walking when you can’t run anymore.

Yesterday I fell on the trail. Bijoux and I run or walk the same 3 1/2 mile loop in Swan Creek almost every day. I know it well. But I still fell. As I picked myself up, I thought to myself: Grit is grit is getting up when you fall. 

Grit is getting up when you fall. 

We all fall. I’ve fallen many times. Sometimes it hurts. But I keep dusting myself off and moving forward. There is comfort in knowing I can always get back up.