Last week, I finally got around to scheduling an appointment for an annual checkup with a cardiologist. I needed to see how my heart was faring after enduring roughly nine months of intense training and whether I was OK to train hard for the marathon. I don’t have a specific heart condition, but my cardiologist advised me to monitor my valves and heart structure to capture any adverse changes early, before they develop into something serious.
Fear and Apprehension
If I’m to be honest, for months before making the appointment, deep down inside, my intuition was telling me that everything was fine with my heart. But I would be a fool to trust my intuition alone and not check in with a doctor to confirm what might have been entirely wrong.
When I made the appointment, my usually dormant hypochondria suddenly escalated to a full-blown panic. Needless to say, while I was waiting in the queue, all the confidence I had in my intuition dissolved like a delicious candy.
My agitation finally came to the point where, upon being called in, I was convinced there was actually some severe leakage in all my valves, and that I would not only be banned from running but also need surgery to fix the damage to save my life.
Well… The brain can play some very mean tricks on one’s peace of mind 😉
So when the cardiologist told me all was well, I felt as if someone lifted a huge burden off my chest. It felt as if I had been, in fact, stressing over this heart issue all the time, even though everything was happening on a subconscious level.
The next day I went for a 6k run with some strides tucked to the end—my traditional pre-race conditioning. And man, nothing comes to mind that I could compare to the exceptional feeling of going for that run and knowing all was good with my body! I ran with such lightness in my stride and mind that I wished it were a long run instead of a pre-race primer.
Running through the course I despised just a month ago (so strongly was I dismayed by my utter lack of progress), I now cherished every step of that too-familiar scenery. In my mind, a celebration of relief was exploding, attacking all my senses and redefining all memories. I was ecstatic.
Running Is the Ultimate Joy of Being
This whole running business became so ingrained in my life that I don’t know what I would do if I were told I couldn’t run anymore. And while I know this time will eventually come (no one is immune to aging and diseases), there’s a huge difference between ceasing to run now that I’ve just fallen head over heels for running and to stop doing it in a few years’ time.
This green light to exercise at full capacity breathed so much determination and appreciation into my life that it ultimately became a priority-redefining experience. Life is happening now, at this moment and day. I should be able to soak up every second of every moment and live by it. I’ve wasted so many training sessions on getting locked in a ridiculous mental shuffle of things to eat post-run instead of immersing myself in the here and now. And the true beauty of running fully unveils when you share the time and space of the moment with the world around you.
I know this is all cheap cliché talk, but sometimes no number of words can define the feelings that are oscillating at the nuanced boundary of spirituality. Spirituality that can only be experienced viscerally by fellow runners.