I used to want one of those “26.2” stickers. You know, the ones that sit next to the “My Son Is an Honor Roll Student” stickers on the rear window of people’s cars. My car doesn’t sport one of those running stickers, and as long as we’re on the topic, I don’t have the honor roll sticker either.
I’m not a hugely competitive person, not very athletic at all, really. Growing up, I was always the last one picked in PE for team sports. Later in life, I took up running and became competitive, if only with myself, but to a degree some might call obsessive. For years, I called my running “survival”—until the day I finally decided it would have to be enough just to show up.
I’d been running for years. I’d run and run and run, like Forrest Gump, running through small towns all across the country until my body began to break down. But multiple injuries, hundreds in co-pays, and time spent in the chiropractor’s office could not convince me to give up running.
Looking back, I’m not sure if I was running toward something or running away from it.
After a run, especially the ones during which I was dealing with an injury, I would find myself saying I guess that was good enough. And good enough felt like a failure, like a goal not attained. I would question my ability and worthiness by the success, or lack thereof, of a run. Good enough was not good at all.
That good enough forced me to push through pain, to worsen injuries, even when my body screamed at me stop. It pushed me to seek out perfection, because failure was not an option.
But these days something is shifting; my inner dialogue is changing. Just last week, I felt it. I laced up my shoes one morning and headed out for a run. I had no particular agenda—no path in mind, no distance I had to travel. It was just me and the road. With no route in mind, I just turned right out of my driveway and ran. It used to be that every time I ran I was chasing a better time or more miles. I always looked down—down at my feet to perfect my stride, down at my watch to check my pace and miles.
Last week, though, for the first time in maybe ever, I looked up. Running suddenly felt very different. Suddenly running was more about being thankful for what my body can do and really appreciating my surroundings, rather than competing against a clock or my own insufficient body.
I ran four miles, and for the first time ever, I found myself thinking, not that was good enough, no, on that day, it was simply enough—without qualification.
It was enough. I was enough.
I still don’t have that 26.2 sticker, but I feel like I might have finally reached the point in my life where I am happy just to show up, when showing up means that I am proud, confident, strong and incredibly thankful for what my body can and will do. My effort is enough. And, like my run, I can see now that I needed to take this long to get to this place of understanding. This has been a journey, and much like a long run, a journey only unfolds at a speed you can handle.
I’ll get there when I get there, and it will be enough.