MARCH 2021 EDITOR'S LETTER
Endurance is on my mind these days.
Since college, I have been a kind of / sort of runner. Back then, running looked like hitting the hills in warm weather (and the coliseum in cold) at WVU with my bestie, logging 3-4 miles and about 2000 stairs at the end of every day. Those runs were exhilarating, and truth be told, not that hard...I could have gone longer and further, if not for my interest in getting to happy hour with my friends. As work, marriage, and kids came along, my running routine evolved from logging miles pushing a jogging stroller (first a single then a double) to treadmills to being grateful to walk 3 miles a few weeks after a surgery. Turning 50 later this year isn’t helping my endurance mindset; but I am determined to get it back since my previous peak was just a few years ago, when running 5-7 miles a day literally kept my mind and heart on the right path.
If you are a runner (or a cyclist), you know that endurance is hard to gain and easy to lose. Since the pandemic started last March, my running routine has taken a backseat to so many other things: first the shutdown, when the weather was terrible and the gym was not an option; then an unexpected and pretty big surgery that meant general anesthesia and a 4 week recovery; and then the dreaded feeling of starting over because my endurance had been virtually wiped out.
The thing about starting over is that we often have muscle memory to make the brutal learning / endurance curve a little easier with each successive start. Not that there aren’t moments of humility, frustration, and even some feelings of defeat. But, when we just can’t seem to believe we will ever get back to where we were, our bodies have a way of remembering and helping us push through to the sweet feeling of accomplishment and general well-being brought by those amazing endorphins (incidentally, the folks at Scientific American published this article diving into the physiology of a “runner’s high”).
Getting started is definitely the hardest part, and it’s totally up to us. I have had a million excuses for not getting started. As a result, I have put on the “Covid 15” (not unlike the Freshman 15 for those of you from a certain age bracket), and my endurance has been at an all-time low this winter - with humility at an all-time high. When my darling 19 year old daughter was home for break, we made the most of one of those warm January days with an afternoon run; in which I got a little cocky and sprinted past her near the end, only to collapse on the side of the road as she breezed past me, ponytail swinging and feet bouncing.
Coincidentally, my emotional endurance might have hit an all-time low this winter, too. Somehow I doubt I am alone. A global pandemic, social unrest, a contentious presidential election, an uncertain economy, and limited opportunities for (non-virtual) facetime with friends and family have made the past 12 months some of the toughest in memory. But there is hope. Spring is coming, friends, and the muscle memory is there - if only we can lean into it just a little bit more. Vaccine rollout is picking up, warmer weather will offer more opportunities for safely-distanced get togethers, and the sunshine is coming with greater frequency. Trust in your mind, body and spirit to push through and endure. I know I am.
PS...I am up to 3 miles a day. Hoping you’ll hold me accountable to hitting 5 by the summer. ~ A.