Today I needed a bit of a push to get started writing. I treated patients from 7am - 4pm, rushed over to a meeting (in which I was late to), then came back home to treat a family member at home, put the boys down for bed, and all of a sudden it was after 8pm. I had not eaten dinner and I was tired. I wanted to get a run in today and I still had not written yet today. And to be honest, I really had no clue what I would write about today.
So, I did what I enjoy most. I took to the trails in hopes that I would get some guidance. XM radio was streaming the Dave Matthews Band concert at Deer Creek (Ruoff) live. So I did what any good millennial does and used my dad's login to be able to listen in while I ran.
Now here I am, feeling refreshed after a trail run, sitting in my back yard with a Big Wave Golden Ale still listening to the same concert. I am thinking about how amazing I just felt running 4 miles, which felt short and fast when just a few months ago that would've been a long run for me. It was this past winter I was finally able to tell myself "enough is enough." I've got to get back into shape and find my past love of running.
"Operation No More Dad Bod"
I signed up for the Winter Night Trail Run that was in January and have been running consistently ever since, with plans to run the Eagle Creek Trail Half Marathon in August. The effect has been less physical than it has been mental for me. It finally gave me an outlet for my the stress and anxiety I had been experiencing at an increasing rate. My wife, boys, and I had been hiking a good amount, but there was something about running on those same trails that invigorated me. Over the past few months, I have found that trail running has been the best vitamin for my stress and anxiety. I found myself relying on my runs to get me through each week. Trail running began to be my therapy. It gave me time to be by myself and allow my brain to decompress.
For years I was making myself feel guilty about letting myself become a shell of the runner I used to be. More negative thoughts. A theme from past posts. The truth was, every time I got up the courage to get out and run, I felt miserable and I would not do it consistently, beating myself up for letting myself become out of shape. And deep down, I was forcing myself to do it, I wasn't finding any sort of enjoyment out of running anymore. I think people experience this ALL the time. It is super easy when you have kids and get busy with your life to let yourself stop prioritizing exercise. It is absolutely critical that you don't let yourself fall victim to the trap.
The moment I hit the trails for the first time, I knew I had found my passion. I think there is a huge lesson there; in order to get and stay active, you have absolutely got to find something you enjoy doing if you are going to stay active. When first starting out, it is way too easy to remember back when you were an athlete, could run faster paces, or train for and run races, and compare yourself to that "former you." You have to admit to yourself that you aren't yourself as you were 5, 10, or 15 years ago. You are different, and in order to get back to that person you long to be, it is going to take time. It is a process. And if you want to successfully navigate that process, you better find something YOU enjoy.
For me, trail running has been the gateway therapy for further personal growth. I can guarantee you if I saw my friend's post about this Do Thirty Challenge at the same time last year, I would've felt compelled to do it, but would've sat on the sidelines. I would have had negative self talk making myself feel guilty for not participating and it would've been one of about a million other small things I would let bother me subconsciously for months, contributing to the mounting stress and anxiety I had been experiencing. Instead, I am on Day 6 of writing every single day and it was trail running that not only got me to commit to this self inflicted writing challenge in the first place, but got me inspired to write on Day 6.
There are a lot of days to go and I have a bunch of ideas. I appreciate all of you that continue to follow along. I hope that it is worth your time. If you feel compelled, please head over to my GoFundMe page to help me continue to raise money for the Henley Romine BEElieve Foundation. She is my inspiration and the why behind me finally being selfish and looking inward at personal growth in the first place.