With the first two weeks of my training for the Soweto Marathon having finally started, I must say that my expectations were somewhat of a stark contrast to the reality of beginning to run again after procrastinating for a month or two. Much like I always tend to do, I imagined beautifully endured strides, with little to no effort at all, and my breath to be perfectly in sync with the wind that would carry me as I ran. What ACTUALLY took place from the moment I took a step onto the running track, was an abundance of elephant-landing tramples on the ground, a lot of effort to not give in to the fatigue and natural propensity to convince myself that I actually don’t need this kind of stress in life, and heavy breathing that was in sync with my heartbeat which was beating like it was about to stop for a moment.
Okay, perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but I definitely am not lying when I say that it’s always the hardest to get back into any good habit after you have ‘taken a break’ from it, or just managed to sidestep it completely for a while. With what felt like a sense of urgency to get back to the level of fitness I once was at, and beyond that for a race so much longer than I have ever run before, I couldn’t help but feel as though I needed what every human being needs whenever they find themselves at a plateau in anything that they’re passionate about. Somewhere between heavily breathing, attempting to keep up with my ambitions (and the other runners in the pace group at Nike Running Club), and eagerly hoping that my Itunes Playlist wouldn’t disappoint me with an unforeseen love song playing next, I had to ask myself why I love this *#$% so much!
And there it was, exactly an indication of what I needed. A reminder, not a new running outfit that would induce me to run in my sleep or a fitspo quote I could easily find on Tumblr. I needed a little reminder of why I loved running so much, because somewhere between neglecting the passion and overlooking it completely in the hopes of easily finding it again when it suited me, I inadvertently discarded of it completely simply assuming that it would always be there.
After doing much soul searching, and by ‘soul searching’, I mean Instagram stalking my favourite street culture runners, I was quickly reminded that it wasn’t the cool outfits that got me up at 4am on a Sunday in anticipation for a race: it was the excitement of exploring a place that I was likely unfamiliar with. It wasn’t the acquisition of a medal or free T-shirt that got me training for a race: it was the prospect of being better than I was in that particular race a year before. And it wasn’t the bragging rights of finishing a run that got me to the start line: it was the crazy love for a crazy sport with a bunch of CRAZY people I had never met, coming from different walks of life but with the same ambition to keep running for life that kept me going.
And just like that, I got my groove back (I feel old saying that!). With my running shoes on, timing app ready, and body prepared to be pushed to some fearful heights (yes, FEARFUL), I began running again. And I must say, I am so happy that despite the downward slump and upward struggle that resembled the many undulating races in life and in running, that I got over the starting line of it all, which in my opinion, is one of the toughest parts of any race.