What the road has taught me
I’m in my mid-twenties. Like college, these are formative years – just with a lot less house parties and homework and more routines and early nights. And a big girl job. And insurance payments. And #responsibilities.
Relationships, careers, health… they’re taking shape for me right now and setting me up for the rest of my life. I pay for car repairs with money I forlornly look at as a woulda-been weekend getaway vacation dollars. It’s how it should be, I suppose, as I get used to life as a grown-up person. It happens, right?
Being a contemplative, reflective person (hence, writer) has rendered me thinking about lessons and growing up and what I’ve learned lately. This proclivity guides me to lessons I’ve learned from roads, trails, and sidewalks, fields, bridges, and other places I’ve stretched my legs.
What the road has taught me (so far):
1. There are potholes, detours, fallen trees, bee hives, and crazy stroller runners. Adjust your route accordingly.
2. Calves that don’t fit into skinny jeans because of mileage are exempt from following fashion trends, and should therefore legitimize yoga pants as acceptable everyday wear. I’m sure I can get some guys to back me on up this, right, fellas?
3. I’m tough. I can fight. I’m a bad ass. And I rarely let myself believe it. I should believe it more.
4. Listening is best. Don’t waste your breath.
5. The sun can shine your entire run, or you can get caught in a rainstorm. Keep going.
6. A little mud never hurt anything. Actually, mud is best.
7. Sometimes you have to follow the rules; they’re there for your own good. (Stoplights, amirite?)
8. Pushing yourself gets you further. Every. Time.
9. Snot rockets, farts…sh!t happens. Laugh at it. Laugh at yourself.
10. Bringing people with you can make it a lot more fun than going at it alone.
11. At the same time, it’s necessary to have your alone time with the asphalt under your rubber soles, the clothes on your back, and your thoughts. It can be scary, being left alone with your brain. Go to that scary place anyway.
12. Squats, lunges, stretching…preparation for the road is important – don’t ignore the fundamentals.
13. The best views have the most brutal ascents.
14. Run the mile you’re in. Be where you are.
15. Never compare yourself to another runner. They could be having the best – or worst – running day of their life. Withhold judgement.
16. Take care of yourself. Rest days are necessary, and the road won’t disappear if your shoes aren’t on it.
Any runner can atest that the road and its lessons are akin to life; it’s ridiculous the metaphors and similarities. Maybe that’s why so many follow the road. It’s not just cardio. It gives more, and it takes more.
I still have a lot of lessons to learn from the road, from life. I’m in my mid-twenties, so that damn well better be true! I’ve got my alarm set for tomorrow morning and I’m gonna go out on sore hamstrings and see what I can learn from the road tomorrow, even though I’ve ran it a hundred times or more. It may be that I should always carry an extra hair tie (ok, I already know that) or it may show me what I’m really supposed to do with the rest of my life, or at least the next few years (crossing my fingers). Either way, the road has taught me many things so far and I’m grateful for the road.
What’s it taught you?