Last week I realized that I’ve run one hundred miles in the last year. With a great sense of accomplishment, I recorded this number, overwhelmed with what I can do despite the challenges I face. Running used to be one of my favorite hobbies, and after my health forced me to take long hiatuses from the sport, I’m thrilled that I still get to enjoy this form of exercise. So many different factors had to perfectly align to get me running again, and I don’t take a single one for granted.
That rush of happiness and pride, however, was soon replaced with sadness. Compared to what I used to run, logging one hundred miles in a year is hardly worth mentioning. I remember when my goal was to cover that distance in a single month. As soon as this thought surfaced others that minimized my achievement followed quickly behind. I considered how I can only complete my runs on an anti-gravity treadmill, which allows me to lower my body weight to as little as 20% of what it actually is. The fact that I’m running at a low weight feels a lot like cheating, and years ago is something I wouldn’t have counted as real running. Then, I thought about how as much as I love my treadmill, one of my favorite things about running used to be that it was an outdoor sport. I’d turn my nose up at people who ran on treadmills when I was the one braving the weather, dodging cars, and literally covering the miles I was meticulously tracking.
It’s an odd thing when a single event can result in this polarity of emotional responses. I want to do nothing more than live life smiling, grateful, and elated for all the wonderful things I have and all I’m able to do. Still, it’s difficult to escape the feeling that each of my achievements has a little asterisk next to it, as if what I’m capable of is only worth mentioning because of extraneous factors. That asterisk is supposed to give me permission to pat myself on the back for things that would have otherwise left me unimpressed.
All I can do with this right now is view these feelings as an indicator of how I’ve yet to accept my limitations. The perception I have today doesn’t have to be something I deal with forever, and the only person who can make this change is, well, me. I’m rolling my eyes as I type this next bit, but as obnoxious as it is I know that it’s true. This is all little more than another opportunity for growth and self-improvement, and I can either accept it as such or continue to wallow in my milestones*.