I’ve been running for more than twenty years, though not consistently. Sometime in recent years, I decided that every mile a gift. Lately, running has been more difficult for me, and I’ve thought more deeply about the phrase, my running mantra: “Every mile is a gift.”
Last Saturday, while running the Labor Day 30K in Milford, Michigan, I carried this phrase through every mile. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make the distance. I’ve had some challenging calf and shin pain. Starting a run is especially difficult right now and when I start running, I feel as if I can’t quite get my stride. I don’t really ease into a run until a few miles in. My pace is slower. I can’t imagine how I once declared that running a marathon could be easy. To combat my recent difficulty, I’ve tried compression socks, Epsom salt baths, and massage. I’m not noticing a huge improvement from any of these comfort measures, but I’m sticking with the running for now, even through the pain.
So last Saturday, I drove more than 70 miles from home to run — I’d registered, paid my entrance fee, and didn’t want to quit before I started. I felt prepared to quit if needed, to prevent additional injury. I didn’t relish the thought of dropping out of the race without finishing it, but I reserved stopping as a possibility.
Had I realized the course included many hills along dirt and gravel roads, I may have quit before I started. Instead, I carried my favorite phrase, turning it over in my mind. Every mile is a gift. Every. Mile. Is. A. Gift.
I believe every mile is a gift, even the painful miles. Every mile. The fast ones. The ones when I feel strong. The ones that end with kick. The dragging miles. The uphill miles. The ones I barely struggle through. The road miles. The trail miles. The treadmill miles. The 19th one during a 19 mile run. The first. The last. The rainy. The windy. The muddy. The one I run with friends. The one I run alone. Every mile, when I run it, is a gift.
Every mile. As a runner, I count miles, but this is really any unit of measure. Every day. Every moment. Every conversation. Every breath. Every week. Every month. Every year. Every minute. All of it, it’s all a gift. As a runner, every mile I run is a gift.
A gift. Every mile is a gift. It’s something to anticipate. To savor. To notice. To explore. To discover. To appreciate. To unwrap. To remember. To cherish. To embrace. To share.
Every mile is a gift.