Finding Running Inspiration

-Cara Benson

Do you ever struggle on your running journey? Some days, just lacing up and getting out the door can be a challenge. Cold, rainy days and fatigue can tax my motivation. When that happens, I turn to what inspires me. These four motivators can get me to the pavement no matter what.

1. My Physical Health

Getting in better shape is one of the top reasons people start running. Running burns calories like crazy and improves your heart health. It’s a great leg and core workout that doesn’t require a gym membership. Reminding myself of all the health benefits that running provides is a great way to get out the door.

2. My Mental Health

Did you know that running is viewed as a form of meditation? That’s great news for people who don’t like to sit still. The mental break that running provides leads to lots of great benefits. It can relieve stress, help with problem-solving, and even help fight depression and anxiety. Keep in mind the euphoric feeling you get once you complete a run, too. You can only achieve it if you push yourself!

3. A Great Charity

When I’m “too tired” to run, I think about those who can’t. Signing up for a race that benefits others reminds me of how small my problems are in comparison. So many organizations use races to fundraise for worthy causes. Participating in these races is such a simple, fun way to do my part in giving back. Bonus: giving back feels as good as running!

4. PR Goals

I can’t run my fastest mile or farthest distance if I’m sitting on the couch. Setting a goal to keep in mind gives me purpose. From not wanting to break a run streak to qualifying for the Boston Marathon, my goals get me out the door on the hardest days.

 

What’s your best advice for someone struggling to hit the pavement? What motivates you to run?

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On Addiction

I remember the first time I went running; I must have been around 12 or 13, and I felt ecstatic as I trotted around town, crossing out of my neighborhood and into flower shops, stores, and the city streets.  It was magical.  As a little thing (maybe 6 or 7?) I would run, but it was mostly racing the boys on my block.  I would start at the top of the hill, arms in the ready position, as they stood atop their bikes; I wanted them to have the advantage.  I wanted to win.  

As I got older, things began to change.  I started to get good, in a tangible way.  It wasn’t just winning, it involved this exponential growth that is usually not seen in 5th grade girls.  As I got older, the pressure weighed more heavily on my shoulders, as coaches began to know who I was and I started to get respect for simply having a number next to my name.  But it wasn’t their fault, that this pressure got to me; I am co-dependent.  I have trouble living for myself.  If I were to be completely honest, I have no idea how to live for myself.  When I do well at something, it is either a result of an addiction or the result of co-dependence.  When I fail, it is usually because I make excuses, justifying my inner demons and putting them on things bigger than just “human error”.  If I am weak, then I am dispensable, penetrable, and worthless.  In all reality, though, these are things I think about myself, regardless of an outcome.  

Any self-confidence I have developed, has been the result of addictive behaviors or living for others.  It is not deep.  It is not strong.  It is not going to cut it any more.

Racing is this beautiful thing, where we are forced to deal with our inner demons and see what is happening on the inside, manifest in tangible results on the outside; for me, over the past half-year, my running has spiraled.  My races have been getting worse.  And I want to sit here and throw a pity party for myself, explaining that I am hurting on the inside, I think I am worthless, and I am afraid of racing because of how I abused it in the past.  Because, if I am pitied, at least no one will attack me.  And so begins the co-dependent behavior again; I feel I need approval for my shortcomings, so at least I can sleep at night.

But it never comes.  It will never come.    

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My favorite road

I haven’t recognized myself in a long time; it is a far cry from the little girl that would go out and shoot a basketball for hours, just because she loved it.  The one that would spend a whole day locked in her room, just to improve her handwriting.  The one that would never clean my room, because I was more concerned with making sure my stuffed animals had a book to read while I went to school.  As the addictive behaviors grew, so too I choked out who I was and who I am meant to be.  Living without those things, whether it be a bottle, a scale, or a number, means I have to deal with my emotions and who I really am.  And that is SO hard.  REALLY dealing with who we are, and living for ourselves- I am not sure I know how to do that.  

Any self-confidence I have developed, has been the result of addictive behaviors or living for others.  It is not deep.  It is not strong.  It is not going to cut it any more.

My racing has been evidence of that.  I am standing on start lines and thinking “I don’t want to be here”.  I hit the pain part of the race and I fall apart, because I am terrified of myself.  “I don’t think I can do it and if I can, does that mean I am going back to my addictive behaviors?  Well, it doesn’t matter, because I am worthless anyway.”  And I want to sit here and pray someone will message me, Mitch will give me a talk, or God will send a rainbow showing me “Why yes, you are worthy!  You are great! And you CAN do this” but even when it does come, it never sinks in.  Because in my heart, I don’t believe I can and make excuses for why it is impossible.

Someone very close to me, who is a very wise person, said that when coming back from addiction, the hardest part is dealing with emotions.  Like, actually FEELING something and the shame that comes with “coming to”.  Coming out of it.  Getting back to living.  Addressing our shortcomings.  Accepting God into our lives.  To be honest, I don’t even know God that well; for years, God was/sometimes still is wrapped into this co-dependent relationship, where if I am having a tough time, it is because I am a bad person.  But, to be fair, I have always been sinful; but that doesn’t make me bad.  I have been pissed at God for a while, but a small part of me knows that I am only pissed at what I made Him in my mind to be: just another thing/person to be co-dependent on.

Dignity RC is all about start-lines.  Some of us are there to raise money for cancer.  One of us will win.  Many of us are chasing a PR.  Some of us are trying to get our post-baby bodies back.  And some of us, like myself, know that it is in the start-line where we begin to forgive ourselves.  It is in the start line where we give ourselves permission to live again.

road

A road that kills my quads

One day I will race well- for now, it is a struggle.  I am still going to look at my times and wonder if I am getting slower.  Make excuses for myself.  Defend myself, while tearing myself apart on the inside.  One day life will feel good again- I will know what it is like to have some emotions and recognize them.  The phrase “it gets better” is no joke.  I believe that with all my heart.  But for now, I am going to continue to put myself on start lines.  I am going to continue to fight for a life that isn’t filled with numbing, but one that walks arm in arm with every emotion life has to offer.  I am going to continue to work on my co-dependent behavior, and learn that the only person I can live for is myself.  And finally, I am going to find out who God is, because the one I have created in my head is not the one I know in my heart.

If you are in a place where you feel like everything is falling apart, where you feel no sense of worth, or you are so terrified of yourself, that numbing behaviors seem appeasing, just remember: it gets better.  Get help.  Address your shit.  Get up again.

Finally, keep putting yourself on that start line.  One day, you will fly again.

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Resources:

Addiction Hotline

National Eating Disorder Help

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous