Joy delights in Joy - William Shakespeare
One of my favorite childhood memories is one of running in my grandparents yard and feeling the soft grass beneath my feet. It was fun to play a game of chase with cousins and other neighborhood kids on warm Sunday afternoons. The world was filled with laughter and fun. Running was effortless and joyous. Somewhere along the way, most of us lose that sense of joy. We grow up and take on adult responsibilities that zap that joy from our activities. When life throws you a curveball or knocks you on your ass, it's nice to do something that makes you smile. For me, that activity is running. It does so much more than just bring me happiness. Running relieves my stress, helps me lose weight and keeps my heart healthy (and it gives me killer gams, if I do say so myself!). It's nice to run with purpose (training or weight-loss) but it's also nice to run just for the sake of running. I don't get enough of those opportunites. Most days, my activities are planned out which can take the fun out of things. I look forward to going back home to visit my parents. When I go there, I run for fun and never plan my route. I allow my feet to be my guide.
I love running through my old stomping grounds, taking in the sights, seeing what has changed since my last visit. It's like a trip down memory lane. Running by my old elementary school. Running past the giant oak tree that I use to climb and scrape my knees on. Stopping off for a drink at the high school water fountain before I make my way towards downtown and past all of the little boutique shops that have existed for as long as I can remember (although some now have different names). The laidback pace brings a relaxing element to any of the runs I do when I visit and restores that sense of joy. My hometown runs always end with a big smile on my sweaty face. Wouldn't it be nice if joy could be regained in all aspects of our lives that easily?
I will do my best to carry that sense of joy with me as I begin my half-marathon training in the next few months. Once the hard work begins, I will have to make an effort to keep things light and relaxed. I will have to do things during my training that make it fun for me. Taking my big puppy with me during a run always makes me happy. Jumping over rocks on the trails makes me smile. Enjoying the sounds of nature soothes me. Running is my happy place where I lose myself in the limitless possibilities that lay before me. Knowing that I can do anything I want makes me happy and gets me through the hard times when I hurt and want to stop.
What gives you joy? Seek it out. Embrace it. Try to hold on to that sense of joy as long as you can. And never forget to enjoy the little joys along the trail.