Facing my own mortality inspired me to stop making excuses and start running

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by See Momma Run
By: draganbrankovic – CC BY 2.0
By: draganbrankovicCC BY 2.0

Everyday I say "Today's the day! Today I'll get back on track!" But everyday, I feel like I let myself down.

Well you know what they say: when it rains it pours. Sometimes it takes a fucking hurricane to get you out of your own head and get your priorities straight.

On my way to work one morning, already running a little late because of oversleeping from my new medications, I ended up being the last car in the three-car pileup.

Only blocks from my house a woman smashed into a car, which in turn smashed into mine. As I sat in my car and thought, well fuck, I guess I'm going to be late to work today, I realized suddenly that this could have been more serious than it was. My car was relatively undamaged, but the other two were both likely totaled. The car in the middle had a child in it, right in the spot where my son Abel sits in mine, and right where the impact was.

The child was fine, all adults involved were fine. To me this was an inconvenience, but the woman who caused the accident was absolutely devastated at the thought of what could've happened to that little child in the backseat where she hit. All in a moment.

Police reports were filed, claims were made, and we all went about our day. It wasn't until I got to work that I sat, shaking, realizing that I wasn't okay. This simple inconvenience for me made me question my mortality. Now I know that's a pretty extreme leap, but really, it's not.

What have I done in the last week to make my life worth living?

I am a mother, a wife, an individual, a runner, a crappy cleaner with a pretty messy house. I like to read, and write…. But what have I really done with that lately? What makes my life enjoyable and worth living?

That evening, upon returning home, I thought of a million excuses why I should just go inside and call it a night: it's getting dark, I live in the city, it's too late to go to the park, it's not safe to go out alone… and the list went on.

But I made a different choice.

As quickly as I could, with the slightest bit of sun yet to set, I put on my running shoes, sports bra, and a hat, and I hit the streets for my first outdoor run in some time.

I only meant to run one mile, but I ran over two. I know that's not much, but it made a huge difference. That meagre run, at a snail-like pace, ended in tears. Not because I was disappointed, but because it allowed me time with myself. I processed things that make me emotional and unhappy, yet at the same time I thought of everything that pushed me forward, and encourages me every day to keep going. By the end of those two miles, those measly, silly, stupid, two miles, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

I run because I can. I run because I want to. I run because I have goals, and I will not let my body grow old without realizing my full potential.

In the end, I know it was a slow, staggering two miles, but mentally, it was a marathon. It was a breakthrough. Running is my friend, my family, and my hero. So as long as I can, I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other, always moving forward.

  1. Wow – thanks for sharing this well-written reminder. I find that a little time devoted to exercise or finding time to think and write does wonders for my mood. I just have to get out the door 🙂

  2. Lovely post. I wish I felt this way about exercising!

    For me it's more like, "moar books all the time. there are too many books in the world, and I don't have time to read them all. how many good books am I missing out on right nowwww?" So I really need to make sure I leave time to read for pleasure, and when I do, I feel so much better about the world and everything around me.

  3. As someone who goes through being an active runner and then a runner on hiatus, I really appreciate this. I have often said that I exercise to try to stave off the use of walkers or electric scooters. Thanks for sharing this; it'll get me out of the house for a run, no matter what the length.

  4. I absolutely love this line: "What have I done in the last week to make my life worth living?"

    I think we all need to remind ourselves of this and devote our time to whatever it is that makes us happy. All the minimalist blogs about throwing out what you don't need, and only keeping what is useful or makes you happy, should absolutely apply to every minute of our day and our activities as well as the stuff in our homes.

  5. It's so easy to come up with excuses NOT to do these good things for ourselves, that I've really been trying to come up with ways to just stop thinking about all the excuses…..to just get around them all some how.

    I recently had to stop tracking my running – and it made a WORLD of difference for me. Before I would run and feel good, then check the stats and feel let down, and I almost quit. Then I stopped tracking – and at the end of a run if I feel good then that's good enough! I don't need any more pressure then that!! One obstacle killed!!

    • Oh, this is spot-on. My biggest obstacle to feeling that my life is "enjoyable and worth living" is that I'm always keeping track of what I've accomplished, and it's never, ever enough. I haven't read enough books. I haven't written enough poems since I left school. I haven't been exercising frequently enough. And so on. But when I stop for a second, I realize that really, I'm NOT unhappy with myself — I'm feeling the best that I've felt in years. It's just that my dumb brain is really good at kicking my legs out from under me and creating obstacles.

      So I'm going to follow your lead and just do the things, instead of worrying about how much doing I'm doing!

  6. I couldn't agree more. I took a year off from any exercise (0r really any self-care) due to the overwhelming demands of a stressful job. At the end of each day it was all I could do to get my basic needs met, forget about anything else.

    After I quit that job I eased my way back in to running again and it was a slow start.

    For a New Year's resolution this year I vowed to create a habit of exercising every day, no excuses. I wanted to become the kind of person who prioritizes exercise to the point that they find a way to fit it in no matter what. I also vowed not to let the winter get me down and to keep exercising outside all winter. That second part was definitely challenging living in Boston this winter.

    Since January 1 I have exercised all but 6 days. I have brought my 5k time down steadily to the fastest pace of my life, and I am training for my first half marathon. I have seen amazing results physically and mentally over these last 3 months and I feel powerful and capable.

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