Shifting from being invisible to feeling comfortable being seen seemed undeniably positive until I really stopped to think about it.
I have always tracked my runs using one of the many apps that shows all of your run stats. The only measure I had been paying any attention to was distance, and I felt really good about doing mostly shorter runs, with an occasional longer run thrown in on the weekends.
The more I ran, the farther I could go, and the better I felt, but I never had any interest in running long distances and, unlike many others, running a marathon is not on my bucket list. I have been focused solely on the delight of running. With all of Rock Creek Park as my oyster, every run is exhilarating. It feels like something is missing in my day if I don't get my run in.
Then one day I realized I could be fast.
The app voice that announces my split times had always been background noise until this day. I heard a split time, and then another, and another, that were all almost 2 full minutes faster than I had been running on the treadmill at the gym. And I was keeping that pace up for multiple miles, outside, with hills.
All of a sudden data had wormed its way in and I became fixated on running THAT fast every time. I would have a couple of great days in a row, but invariably I was slower the next. I felt let down, disappointed in myself, sure I was not living up to my potential. I asked myself if I had eaten right that day. Had I gotten enough sleep? Why wasn't I fast anymore?
It took me a few weeks to realize what had happened. Data had sucked the joy out of running.
Fast forward one month. I woke up with a terrible pain in my lower back and knew I couldn't run. I didn't really even want to get out of bed (I did get out of bed--I had promised my 7-year-old daughter a walk in the woods). But after we got back I snuggled up in bed with a heating pad and a book I had been wanting to read.
The next day dawned with the same squeezing pain, but I decided to try a light run. I figured I'd stop and walk if I needed to or turn around and walk up to the gym to stretch. I started out slow. The first few steps didn't feel great, but I loosened up quickly. I kept my pace slow and felt relieved that I could continue without pain. I didn't try to be fast today, and what came of it?
Joy is back.
Creativity is back.