Just because it's different doesn't mean it's bad.
Every time I drive through the Bay Area, my eyes constantly drift to the silhouette of the mountain that started at it all.
Mt. Tam was where I learned to trail run. It's the mountain I use as an escape when the days of looking in the mirror are too unbearable, and it's the mountain where I learned to fall in love with what it means to move for the sake movement. I remember almost every run I've embarked on up that mountain; from waking up at 4 AM to see the sunrise with good friends, to setting out in the middle of a heat wave, to chuckling light heartedly at the fact that I lied to (my now boyfriend) Elan when he asked me (then as friends) to go for a summit run via the hardest route (my response was that I had totally done it before and I was brutally humbled), I've treated that mountain like my playground. It holds so many dear memories.
There is this feeling that exists in the world, like when you look at someone you love and feel a tidal wave of familiarity, like no matter what they do or say you see yourself in them too. Running for me is like that surge of familiarity, it allows a moment or two of complete repose from the definitions I sometimes feel like I have to meet and no matter how long or how far I run, I feel completely like myself.
So when my alarm clock went off and the burden of studying for exams loomed close overhead, I ate two brown rice cakes with peanut butter and banana, laced up my shoes and put in my ear buds. With the soundtrack of Billy Joel blasting unapologetically on my playlist, I hit the trails and forgot for a few hours all the responsibilities I had waiting for me back at home.
90 minutes and 250 calories of Summit Tea later, I found myself a the top, breathless and completely transfixed at the view out in front of me. I slid off my pack, stopped my watch, and sat down on the rocks just beneath the cabin overlooking the million dollar view that composes the Bay Area.
Before I learned to trail run, I like to believe I was an "outdoorsy" person. I loved to ski, went surfing with my dad and enjoyed family hikes whenever my parents had the idea to take them. I ran competitive cross country and track and was always drawn to the longer distances, but in hindsight, I think I just liked competing more. But I would hesitate to ever label myself as an, "outdoor enthusiast" because I had never been back-packing, would frequently opt for road versus trails and sometimes couldn't be bothered to exercise.
My point is simple: whatever you love, don't compare it to or with anyone else. What you love is special because it's yours. You don't have to be the fastest, thinnest, most accomplished trail runner to love trail running. And as simple as that sounds, sitting up on that mountain, by myself and covered in salt and sweat stains, I finally understood it. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to enjoy the mountain; every time I run up Tam I see hikers, bikers, horses and runners, all of them enjoying the fact that today, they're climbing 3,000 feet to reach the summit and enjoy a peaceful view of their home. And that is pretty damn cool.
My training doesn't look like elite runners. My diet doesn't look like what the epitome of health is either. Sometimes I eat too much dark chocolate, and sometimes I eat when I'm not hungry, because I too like to snack and more often than not I feel like I over eat at dinner. But I'm learning not to qualify either of those aspects of my life and simply enjoy them for that fact that they make me, me. I have absolutely adored getting back into running and I refuse to let my sneaky inner critic tell me that because I'm not reaching 90 mile weeks means I'm not a, "good runner." I am a great runner because I absolutely love it, and if you're struggling with comparison I urge you to do this one thing: DON'T.
My day on top of Tam ended with an afternoon next to my favorite person, stretching in the sun on our porch and getting quizzed on the topics of modern literature for my impending final exam. I had dinner with friends and ate a little too much coconut butter at dessert but take my admission to mean that I'm only human and we're all beautifully imperfect.
Run hapi my friend
Run Hapi and Healthy,