Let me just start this by saying that I will never, ever run a marathon again.
They say that marathons are one of those unique experiences that are a rite of passage for serious runners. I remember when I was younger, I would watch the London marathon at my grandparent’s house on a Sunday morning and I knew I wanted to run a marathon one day. Finally, after I’d been running for around 12 years, and entered a fair few half marathons, it felt like the right time to take on the new challenge…
What they don’t fucking tell you is that the marathon isn’t the tough part. The real challenge is the 16 weeks of training beforehand: 4 runs a week, each gradually increasing in intensity to prepare your body and your mind to withstand 26.2 miles. The shortest run on the training plan is 3 miles; the longest run is 20 miles.
Needless to say, it was one of the most challenging commitments that I’d made in my life.
As a result of all this running, my feet are fucking disgusting. Seriously. Blisters are still healing, callouses seem to be with me for the long haul, and my toes have even started to overlap – overlap, for fucks sake – because the muscles in my feet are getting so tight.
Three weeks ago, I did the 20 mile run. This was the furthest distance I had ever run in my life. It took four hours. At one point I thought my knee was going to give way, my feet were bleeding at the end, and I felt like shit afterwards from dehydration. Also, if I had to see another Energy Gel in my life, I’m going to be triggered.
The following day, I rested. Sweet, sweet rest…
On Tuesday, my husband returned home to find me lacing up my trainers.
“Going for a run…” I whimpered.
That run was very stiff, very slow, and very uncomfortable. My legs felt like lead. My muscles were crying. And I remember thinking “What the fuck am I doing?”
Quite simply, I was doing it because I love it.
I really fucking do. I love running. I love the way it makes me feel. I love the feeling of freedom it gives me. I love how much discipline it’s given me in my life. I love the way I can literally run away from all the bullshit from the day and, by the time I return home, I feel better than when I left. I love that my inner child – the one who was always slowest during Sports Day, who could never run away fast enough when she played tag with her friends – can now run twenty fucking miles on Sunday and have the courage to get back out there and do it again on Tuesday.
And that’s what love is about, isn’t it?
OK, let me explain.
Somedays love is easy. It just flows.
Other days, it’s a real challenge of egos and unresolved trauma and pride and all those wonderful things that make us gloriously human.*
You argue. You fight. You get fed up. You can’t see eye-to-eye. You get wounded. You say shit you don’t mean, or perhaps you say things you very much do mean…
But you wake up the next day, and you carry on.
You put on those proverbial trainers, and you run.
Yes, the aches from mispoken words still linger. Resentment may still be there. Memories from those difficult past moments are still very much part of your present.
Love is simply the steadfast resolve to show the fuck up. Come what may, you’re going to hit the road. Like on that Tuesday when I whimpered I was going for a run…it was slower and I had to adjust my body, my pace, and my distance to what I was able to give, but I still gave it what I could.
And so with love, we still give what we can. Day by day, we get stronger and better at it until the memories of that awful row become distant, just like the memories of that 20 mile run. It’s then you realise that, no matter how hard it was, it simply made you stronger.
It’s the choice of it all. You don’t have to – but you choose to because you love.
And as with life, so it is.
*Please also note, as always with posts like this, love should never be painful. If you are with someone who is causing you pain (physical, emotional, etc.) whether intentional or unintentional, you need to discern what is healthy for you and prioritise your safety and wellbeing above all else.