My heart thumps miserably in my chest as I tie on my running shoes. Every bone in my body is screaming, “No! Stop! Return to the couch!” But I get to my feet and shuffle out the door, forcing my reluctant muscles into motion.
My worries pull at my clothes and whisper in my ear as I stride down the street. There’s not enough money. Too many bills. Not enough hours to spend with my daughter. Too many chores to do. I’m weak. Fat.
I round the corner and break into a jog.
The black cloud in my soul shrieks louder, getting right up in my face. Who do I think I am, anyway? I’m no runner. I’m just another bloated Midwesterner, taking up more than my fair share of space on the planet.
I pick up the pace and charge up the first hill. My mouth opens, releasing puffs of negativity and replacing it with big gulps of night air. The voices in my head begin to quiet, realizing their protests are landing on deaf ears.
The earth slants downward in front of me and I find my rhythm. My blood hums and my awareness spreads outwards, reveling in the slight breeze that cools my brow. Feeling strong, I turn and start up the first in a series of three hills, ignoring the voice still whispering that I can’t do it.
My calf muscles scream and my breath wheezes, but I keep going, sheer stubbornness propelling me forward up the second hill. Before I know it, I’m down the other side and heading toward the biggest, baddest climb on my route.
My body tilts forward, every fiber of my being focused on getting to the top. There’s no negativity now – only a host of cheering voices urging me on. My blood sings as I reach the summit and turn for home, reveling in my own power.
My stride lengthens as the terrain smooths out, and my inner goddess stretches lazily, sending tendrils of contentment into each of my fingers and toes. I see the signpost that marks the end of my run and push forward with one last burst of speed, burning up the pavement between me and the end of the road.
Arriving home, I flop down in the crunchy grass and laugh quietly to myself.
While concentrating on outrunning the darkness, I found joy.