We have all experienced moments of grief. It is devastating and life changing. It is emotional, but very physical. It is heavy and comes with aches and pains. But it has also been said that grief does not change us, it reveals us. Katie Arnold, author of Running Home: A Memoir, and winner of the 2018 Leadville 100, is no stranger to grief. She experienced a devastating loss when her father passed away from cancer. While she struggled with it for nearly 18 months, Katie was able to move through her grief using running and writing as a conduit to healing.
No Timeline for Grief
Far too often when we lose someone, we are given a timeline as to how long we can grieve their loss. Some people believe a few months is enough time, while others believe a year may be an appropriate amount of time to grieve. This should not be the case. There is no timeline or finish line. Grief doesn’t go away; it just changes form.
Grief not going away can be a beautiful thing because it means the person you miss and love is still there. But, at the same time, it can make you feel as though you are trapped in a bubble of fog. You may feel lost, depressed, or just weighted down, but that is ok if you cannot see forward or have yet to discover a way out. You won’t escape the fog all at once. What you can do is continue to do important things for yourself that can help you move forward, step by step, that will help you feel a better, little by little.
Katie found running to be a good release for her. It gave her an opportunity to get out in nature, find her rhythm, and get lost in her thoughts. It is important to listen to that intuitive voice that tells you what you need to do today. If that voice tells you to go for a walk, or listen to music, or read a book, do it. You do not need a plan for any of it. Just be present, live in that moment, and allow the moment to lead you from one thing to the next, and eventually you’ll emerge from the fog in a different and better place.
Allow Running to Bring Intrinsic Joy
Running can bring a lot of internal joy, especially as we remember the reasons why we began to run. Most of us began running not for medals or for personal records, but to lose weight, relieve stress, and to achieve goals we never dreamed possible. Unfortunately, races are being cancelled due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop running. Competition tends to throw our balance off. Our egos love to win, improve times, and do well. Egos want to latch on to PR’s. However, this can put us at risk of losing the deeper reason as to why we run.
When we run, we need to stop concerning ourselves with how other people view us and how our times stack up against the competition. Allow running to be a creative process and a spiritual practice. Through training, we can develop a relationship and intimacy with our surroundings, regardless of where we live or what our circumstances might be. There is no need to wish we were running in the mountains when all we have is the city. Create a loop to run, develop a relationship with that loop, and be present to it. It will amaze you the things you will notice that can bring you joy.
Somedays you may not feel like running and you’ll develop a resistance to it through negative self-talk. If you only pay attention to these negative thoughts, you’ll develop an intimate relationship with them. Running should be liberating! We have so much freedom to explore our world. So, develop that relationship with where you are, make it a daily thing, and stick with it.
Maintain the Current Practices You are Developing
There will come a time when the world of seclusion and social distancing we live in now will return to the world we lived in previously. However, when the real world starts up again, hold on to the practices and habits you have developed through this quieter time. Engage in meditation, run without a watch, continue to play with your children outside. Maintain some of the practices you have started right now to keep you from getting sucked back into old habits.
While we have been forced into our current position, find relief in it. This time provides us a time to reflect. Some runners become super motivated by races, while others are stressed by them. This time in our life can provide us with more room in our lives to express running in our own true ways. So, find the practices you are doing now, and if you enjoy them and they are serving you, continue to do them once life returns to normal. Change will remain constant in our life; we cannot always predict the future, but what we do now will lead us to the next part of life. It is all part of the process. Use it and come out strong on the other side!
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I am now taking 3 months off to take some time to get to know my new baby, there is only ONE thing I will be continuing to work on while I am away, and that is my newsletter. I send it out once a week with just my thoughts, any updates, something I am appreciating, and it is just a way for me to stay connected with you all. 🙂
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Thank you to Katie, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.