I’ve heard people say that when they run they feel at-one with nature. But my experience is different. Maybe it’s like yours. When I run I find I’m at-one with myself. I take that time to contemplate my successes, my future and more often than not, the life lessons I’ve learned, especially those from years of watching Star Trek.
I started running when I was 28. As an overweight, unhappy man living in a small community, I was trying to figure where I fit in. But my path to finding where I fit didn’t begin by running; it began by walking up and down the driveway once or twice a day, eventually expanding to around my neighborhood. I doubt that the neighborhood round trip was even as big as a regular city block but for me, it was agonizing. Sore legs, sore quads, lots of sweat … LOTS of sweat. Mind you, it was February so the temperature was chilly. But believe me when I tell you that moving my body created lots of heat.
Every day I would add a few more steps to what I considered my personal (Star) Trek, out to explore strange new worlds. As I increased the distance I was walking, I began to almost enjoy the time I was starting to spend outside. In a highly illogical moment I decided to boldly go where this man had never gone before. I began to venture from the safety and security of my community to across the street and down the block where I began to explore the public park. There were lakes and trees, playground equipment and sandboxes and even other walkers and runners – I was seeking out new life and new civilizations.
At first I was embarrassed to be seen slowly pushing my overweight body across the park while the fit and trim runners passed me at warp speed like I was standing still. But I told my body that resistance was futile. I was givin’ her all I had, so I lifted a hand to give the runners my best Vulcan salute and always got a wave of some sort in reply – I was starting to feel like one of them on the inside even though my body had not yet made that much progress. Fascinating!
By April my walks had turned into full-fledged runs. I was pushing my now somewhat less overweight body harder and faster. At this point I still had a belly that shook when I ran like the proverbial “bowl full of jelly.” But just when I thought I might have to settle for a career moonlighting as Santa Claus instead of Spock, I surprised myself when I realized that I was running two miles a day.
The physical pain was still there but I didn’t feel like someone had set their phasers to stun me; I was able to work that out inside myself, seeing it as progress to becoming a new me. I was truly becoming at-one with myself. I began to believe I’m a runner, not a scientist, mechanic, engineer, not even an overweight coal miner.
As my runs gradually got longer, I began to be the one passing the walkers in the park at warp speed, although not breaking any Starfleet record. And now, remembering how happy and connected those waves from others had made me feel, I always make sure to salute these walkers. After all, one of them might be at the early stage of a journey like mine. I now run the full gambit of amateur races, from 5K races to full marathons. It’s no longer a chore.
Beam me up, Scotty – I’m having fun living long and prospering!
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