Natural High

My freshman year of college I was in Air Force ROTC. It was all part of my grand plan to become a pilot and then eventually an astronaut. The university I attended was far too small and nerdy to have an ROTC program so I had to travel to a nearby large university once or twice a week to play Air Force officer in training. I thought that plan would be completely manageable along with being on the volleyball team, majoring in physics, and adjusting to life on my own. I failed in spectacular fashion, literally; earning the first “F”s of my life in math, chemistry, and physics. I also realized that I wasn’t particularly good at following orders. About the only thing I enjoyed about ROTC was the memorization that was required as part of our drills (I have a nearly “photographic” memory for anything I hear) and singing the Air Force song. The item I most dreaded about ROTC was PT, or physical fitness training. PT was heavy on the running and, my god, did I HATE running. I was always the slowest in the group, my legs itched terribly (years later I found out I have exercise induced allergies), and I was just plain bored. When I quit ROTC at the end of my first semester of college I thought “And now I will never have to run again.”
Fast forward 19 years and I am a regular runner now. I don’t usually post on facebook or talk overly much about how much I love to workout now as I feel like I sound a bit like religious zealot. “Join the church of running and ye too shall be saved!” So I will preach to you, all half dozen of my blog readers! Working out is awesome. Regular exercise is, quite honestly, my antidepressant. Nearly daily workouts have made me a more patient mother and better person. Running is still hard, but it’s a good challenge that leaves me feeling like a I conquered something. Occasionally though something magical happens when I’m running and it doesn’t feel difficult but joyful. Today was a rough day at work; the worst kind of day with bad outcomes for a couple of infants. I was so down that after work I thought about just going for an easy walk. After I arrived home, I put on my running clothes and started down our block. I was hit by a blast of cold wind – it was in the upper 40s – very cold for daytime weather here. I thought about turning back but then I was struck by the intense sense of gratefulness for my healthy body and I knew that walking would never keep me warming enough in the chill. So I took off running and oh what a run it was. I ran the fastest I have in over a year. I literally lept over curbs and obstacles. At the end of 5 kilometers I didn’t feel tired but euphoric. I don’t think I have felt this “high” on life since the moments after Baby’s birth (nothing beats the oxytocin rush following natural childbirth for a high). By the end of the run I was actually smiling, probably somewhat goofily, but much like being in labor I didn’t care how I looked. I felt like I could have run forever and only stopped because I had to pick up Baby from school. I wish I knew what exactly made this run so amazing. I think the hard day and the cool weather were both factors but it felt more magical, almost spiritual. Who knows exactly. What I do know I am going to be chasing that feeling again and again. Come and join my cult!

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