Although I am slowly continuing on my running journey - gritted teeth and all - the flu coupled with a weekend away has meant that I haven't run for a while. So last night, after waking up early every morning this week with the intention of venturing outdoors only to hit 'snooze' on my alarm, I decided to put on my takkies and give it a go. One of the major reasons I've chosen running as my main form of fitness is because I am inherently lazy. If I have to drive somewhere to exercise, I'm out. If I have a class that I have to go to every Monday and Thursday evening, I try for a while and then end up letting everyday excuses get in the way. (It was a long day at work. My head hurts. It's too hot to exercise at this time.) I like being able to step out of my front door whenever I feel like it and go, because then there's no turning back, no room for deviation. That's what makes living at the base of a mountain so great - in hilly Vredehoek, not so much. I'm also not so good when I don't have an end point in mind. I like to know how far I'm running and where I'm running to and from. That way, I can mentally prepare for what I have to endure.
Because of the above, I have worked out that once around my block is exactly 1km. Plus, there's quite a nasty hill above Derry St Spar that you have to tackle, making it a pretty decent route. So when I don't have my running buddy in town or the energy to run on Seapoint promenade (too far, traffic, working late, excuses, excuses...), I run around the block. I've never completed less than three laps or more than five to date. And every time, it's a struggle. Last night was particularly bad thanks to my running break and the heat, even at 19:15! After my first hill, having not even run 1km yet, I was already saying to myself that I wouldn't be able to make more than two laps. And from that moment onwards, an inner mental struggle began:
'Oh my gosh, what was that HILL? You can tell you haven't run for ages, Karen. And it's hot. It's really HOT! It would be so easy to stop right now. Look, there's your front door. Come on, just stop. You look RIDICULOUS. Imagine what everyone is thinking as you pant past them. Just go home, now.'
As I fought against the burning in my legs, the tightness in my lungs and the very strong voice in my head, a smaller, less-obnoxious voice softly started to speak.
'Don't stop.' It said.
'But I want to,' I thought.
'OK,' the voice said. 'It's not the end of the world. It's just a run. But ask yourself this: what will happen if you stop?'
After a moment's thought, I answered, 'Nothing.'
'That's true,' the voice replied. 'But what will happen if you don't?'
'Everything,' I said. And I kept on running.