Running in the dark

The 5:00 fall of darkness is hitting me harder than I think it ever has. Perhaps this has something to do with the deaths that have happened in my life in late summer and early fall. Perhaps I'm getting old. In any case, I will not fall into despair.

At least not for long.

Today I went straight to the gym after work and got on a treadmill and ran. I wanted to run from the moment I woke up today because I ended up sleeping in late and my kids ended up being half an hour late for school. Thankfully I put their clothes out for the morning last night and I am able to whip breakfast together quite quickly. The car started and we made it there, but I decided to go straight to work.

And then, I left work before my section of the earth turned away from the sun because I needed to run an errand, and I didn't take a coat due to the speed at which we escaped my house's gravitational pull. Upon getting home, I had a cup of tea and then suited up a three mile run at the gym.

This is the fourth time in six days I've managed to make it there. Of late I have been so saddened by the coming of autumn that I've not much enjoyed being outside. I was taken aback by how quickly the lush landscape evolved into a bleak tableau that reflects too much of what I've been thinking lately.

This is depression's way of feeding itself. And my solution has been to separate my disconnect with the outside from my body's need to feel alive through exercise. 

A friend of mine tries to get me to run with her at 6:30 once a week. We managed to go three weeks in a row, and her company made the struggle of getting up in the dark worth it. But, I've not been able to get out of bed to do it. The idea of running outside in the cold throws up many mental blocks.

But, I am short-circuiting myself by going to the gym, which is easy, comfortable, and I don't have to think about anything except running. I can distract myself with the television. I can power myself listening to music on bulky headphones as opposed to earbuds that pop right out. 

I also actually use the $37 I pay each month to go to the gym. 

I had a lousy day for reasons that aren't worth mentioning. And it doesn't matter anyway, because I no longer feel lousy. Whatever part of brain is responsible for prioritizing how I spend time is remembering that running makes so much of the rest of my time easier to deal with. 

I create a light within me when I run, when I overcome the doubt and depression and power through. There are no excuses. There is just me and the activity. 

I've figured this out before, but I keep forgetting. There's a part of me that wants to fail, that sabotages my happiness by coming up with reasons not to do the thing that I know works. 

Yet, I outpaced the darkness tonight. I only ran three miles, three miles in which I lost part of my innocence by watching a portion of Desperate Housewives of Beverly Hills. But, I took in songs that fueled me, studying their structure while I ran and pondered what I was watching. 

I have my sights set on a goal of beating my best time in the Charlottesville Ten Miler. That's four or five months away. That event will take place at the beginning of spring, and between now and then I have to make this happen. 

So, I am not going to worry about potential peer pressure that I am not being a true runner because I'm not outside. I'm not going to find any excuses. They don't matter. What matters is that I run, that I build healthier habits once more, and I realize that I've won this battle before. 

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