My midlife crisis started around 5 years ago, right around my 40th birthday. For my midlife crisis, I decided to start running. This was partly because I would see one my friends post about running and he kind of inspired me and partly because I had just had a defibrillator put in and wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something.
5 years ago at this time I was running my first half marathon. Running became so much more than physical exercise for me. It allowed me the opportunity to clear my muddled, confused, and sad brain. It allowed me time to think and process and daydream without kids or my husband or the dogs making noise In the background. It’s an amazing feeling to clear the noise.
The noise would only make the fact that I was turning 40 and looking back on my life and wondering where I was, where I’m going, and where I want to be harder for me. When I shut off the noise, magical things happened. It didn’t start that way. I’d find myself thinking about all the things I had to do that day after I ran and I’d have to work really hard to fit the run in between kids’ activities, work, appointments, making dinner, and watching bad lifetime movies that would suck me in and not let me go. But once it became habit and routine, I’d find myself falling into rhythm with my steps and my breathing and it felt like I could go places. Not just the 5 or 7 or 10 miles but I would go places inside of me that needed attention. The rhythm was the most beneficial part of running for me. It soothed me much like a good beat in music does. Step step, breathe in, step step, breathe out, step step breathe in, step step, breathe out. It calmed me and would squash that voice inside me that would put me down and discourage me. It was like a drug.
And like a drug, when you forget about moderation, running can be painful. I tore my hamstring and kept running until I couldn’t bear weight on my leg. I pulled my hip flexor. I overdid it. And my means to stress relief came quite abruptly to an end. I had become so obsessed with running faster and running longer that I ran out of gas.
Facebook reminded me this morning that 5 years ago I ran a half marathon and how happy I was with just the act of running, before I let my ego get in the way. I’ve been struggling with so much sadness and frustration and anger these days and I’ve had no outlet for these feelings since I can now add herniated disc to my list of midlife ailments. I decided today to go for a run and put one foot in front of the other without judgement or ego. I didn’t care what my pace was or how many miles I could complete. The noise finally stopped. All the voices in my head quieted as I fell into the rhythm.
Step step, breathe in, step step breathe out. One foot in front of the other no matter how long it takes.