There is something soothing in the challenge. There comes a point where it's all in sync: breathing in and out, pumping arms, the rhythm of feet hitting the ground.
I've never actually been through a 12-step program, but I feel like there are certain stages I experience on every long run. There's always a stretch of time (usually in the beginning, hopefully more than once) when I feel good. I feel strong, like this run will be no big deal. I'm loving the music in my ears, the strength I feel in my body, the pace I'm keeping. I am optimisitic and conditioned. I am a runner. Somewhere around this time, I usually find my grateful moment. Grateful to be in a position to appreciate the great outdoors, the joys of exercise, and the glory of calorie-burn. There is the tired point. My limbs feel heavy. I feel impossibly slow. I can't get the breath deep enough into my lungs to feel relief. There is a lost in my thoughts to the point I've forgotten what I'm doing stretch. I enjoy this part of the run because I'm usually surprised when I realize how far I've run without noticing (unless I'm doing laps, in which case I've completely lost count.) This is the time when I stop focusing on my body and go inside my head. A sort of exploration of the subconcious happens and I work through problems, wonder about things, and often get some anger out. Things I won't ever confront head on in life, I'm able to throw down on the ground and run over to some degree of satisfaction. There are surges of energy- sometimes tied to the next song on the playlist, sometimes directly related to who may be watching, sometimes a simple bargain struck: sprint to that corner and you can have a drink. There is the relief, usually at the end when I slow down and feel the heat in my face. Then, a few minutes later there is the pride. I did it. Let's do it again.
I may never run fast, I may never run pretty. I certainly hope that I always run, even if only for the brief therapy session it affords me.