The following story comes from our friend Alison, a former resident of Michigan who now lives on a ranch in Montana with her husband, two gorgeous kids and dogs. Enjoy her story of running in her backyard and make sure to post your comments!
As I was getting my shoes on to leave for my run the other day, my husband yelled, “Look out for the wolves. They’re somewhere along the bench.” (The bench is a stretch of mountains near my house.) Though those words, and the simple fact of knowing there are wolves (as well as bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats) scares me, it doesn’t deter me from what I love and look forward to whenever I get a chance – running.
Running means a lot of different things to different people, which make it so special in my mind. Years ago I found a necklace with the saying “Embrace Each Step” engraved on it and that phrase has stuck with me ever since. Each day I get to run, I will not be able to predict if it will be a good or bad run. But, I can embrace each step of my run and get lost in what running brings to me.
Running keeps me sane and happy. It is my therapy! It gives me time to “get lost” and go. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other keeps me grounded despite what is going on with my life. Running brings me peace in times of frustration, confusion, or anger because I have the opportunity to work through what is bothering me and gain clarity of what the real issue is. Sometimes I feel like I can solve the problems of the world during a run! Running provides time to reflect on what has been going on during the busy hustle and bustle of daily life and provides me with a time to smile on those moments that passed by too quickly. This list could go on and on. I love running!
I believe that runners are some of the bravest people out there. Why? Because they have to put fear, doubt, and uncertainty behind them in order to accomplish a run. Running provides a person with strength of body, mind, and soul. But, in order for this to occur, confidence, belief, and faith in one’s self has to be present. I realized years ago that if I let myself doubt or fear that my run wouldn’t be good or doubted my running abilities, then I would most likely have a crummy run and struggle. There are some days that I inevitably doubt my run will be fast, or as long as I want it to be, or that I will feel good during my run…but once I take the first few steps, a lot of that doubt disappears or is put at bay because I realize it doesn’t really matter how fast I am, how far I go, or if my run was stellar. What really matters is that I found strength, motivation, positive thinking, energy, and/or belief – call it what you will – that helped me get out the door and accomplish something.
So, the wolves could cause me to stay at home and run on my treadmill, or not run at all, just as some of my fears and doubts as a runner could cause me to skip a run or struggle during my run. I sometimes doubt that I’m not good enough because there are things out there that I cannot control –how my body will feel, what I will encounter in my run, what mind games I may begin to play with myself, or what the weather will be like. The likelihood that a wild animal will attack me on the road is slim, and I can control my safety to a certain degree by taking pepper spray, making noise if I get nervous, running in the daylight, and taking my dog along to run with me. I can control fear and doubt as a runner too. I’ve had to learn to overcome fear, doubt, and uncertainty and just run. It’s what I love to do! I should push myself to become better, set goals, and test my limits. But, I should not always go into my runs with specific expectations. It takes away from the adventure and can also take away from embracing each step if each step is meticulously planned each and every day. I have had to realize that I have a number of tools as a runner – strength, positivity, confidence, and motivation. These will help me overcome what scares or weakens me and assists me in accomplishing what I set out to do – get in my daily run…and ENJOY it! Of course I cannot always anticipate what surprises or challenges may present themselves along my run, but I can still enjoy the adventure a run brings and go.
I realized that it takes a lot for me to pass up the opportunity to get in a run outside and that I have more courage than I sometimes give myself credit for. I haven’t always been brave enough to run outside if I had any doubts of what was out there and I haven’t always had the confidence in my running ability. But over time, the many miles I’ve covered have set a foundation for me to feel connected to the earth and safe in the flow of my run. My runs have aided me in gaining confidence that I can run anywhere (with certain limitations of course! – grizzly bears, blizzards, sub-zero weather and ice will keep me home!) and to believe that I have the tools to get through whatever my run holds. So, even though the wolves were at one point only 200 yards from my house, and were then roaming somewhere in the mountains along my run, I grabbed my pepper spray, headed out the door, called my trusty cow dog Pete, and off we went…to embrace each step…be groovy…and run.