...mind you, running is not something that I have enjoyed, in the least, since I was 7 or so. Anyway, I was running and trying to keep the mantra "Joy, joy, joy" in my head. See, I have always envied the people who run regularly. I admire their stamina, their dedication, and their endurance. I've always wanted to be the kind of person that misses running when they can't do it. The last time I remember really liking to run was when I was 5 and racing the other kids in the school yard. At that age my body was so light and my worldview so pure that I really felt like I could run faster than anything. That I could fly. I remember it being a magically joyful experience. So I've been trying to remember that feeling while I run now. And I can say it actually helps some. It really does.
As I was running the other day I realized how thankful I am that I have a reference (even one from childhood) to running being a joyful experience. I wonder about all the other overweight people like me who don't and how much harder it must be for them to find joy in exercising. I also realized how thankful I am that I don't have to struggle to breathe in my life except when I run.
After starting up running again I have realized that not being able to breathe has been the biggest deterrent for me. Not being able to breathe is fundamentally frightening. Its not even just that its scary, there is also some base instinct inside (self preservation I suppose) that screams "I NEED MORE AIR!". I cannot imagine having a breathing disorder like asthma or emphysema. Where you have long bouts with this feeling of suffocation.
My husband joined me for the end of my run the other day and I was telling him about my struggle with this aspect of being out of shape. And his response was "It gets better." While I know this is true, I also know that he has probably never really felt this horrible fear before (he was a cross country runner) and has no reference to fully sympathise.
In the end I found remembering that I would eventually stop running soon helped. I reminded myself what it was like to swim underwater for long distances. It was something I have always been good at (you know, singers lungs). Underwater you get that same sense that you are really going to suffocate, actually die underwater. But when you fight that instinct to breathe OR come up for air you find a peace underwater. And when you get to the end of the length and finally breathe real wonderful air into your lungs you get a sense of pure joy. A sense of the accomplishment and of course the relief of breathing. The gratitude for something you do thousands of times each day otherwise is a wonderfully enlightening thing. Breathing at its essence is good.