I am going to talk about history for a moment – bear with me, it will make sense to running, I promise!
I am a college history teacher by day (runner by early morning and afternoon). And I often tell my students that history is not teleological, meaning that it does not always progress forward (it does not always get better). Rather, history shows us that people, societies, and nations move forward, then take giant leaps back, sometimes it goes sideways, and sometimes it seems static. College students often struggle with their disappointments in our nation’s history. They become pessimistic and sometimes ashamed. For a long time, I didn’t know how to help them with this. As much as I loved the study of history, I knew how hard it could be to remove the rose colored glasses and see the painful events and choices of our ancestors.
Then I realized, where we can find hope and optimism is by focusing on those who resisted and consistently fought to improve our country and world. From women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton who refused to accept that women should have a second-place status throughout the 19th century and men like W.E.B. DuBois who fought for civil rights 60 years before the Civil Rights Movement “began.” These people who pushed, spoke out, and risked their lives are the ways to mediate a difficult history.
I was thinking about this today. (Here comes the running part!) Running is a lot like the study of history. It’s not teleological, our runs don’t always get better, longer, and faster. We might PR and then watch that PR hang around for way too long. Life sometimes gets in the way, we lose time for training. We face injuries. We slow down. BUT we keep running. It’s easy to get discouraged, to ask ourselves what is the point? But we get up in the morning, we lace up our shoes, and we run one mile, five miles, twenty-six point two freakin’ miles. We push through the challenges – that’s hope and optimism in a daily action!
Isn’t that awesome? Isn’t that something to be proud of?? I certainly think so!