Today, it’s Global Running Day, exactly four weeks after I underwent emergency abdominal surgery.
It’s a day when runners take to the streets, to the treadmills, to the trails. They post on social media, hashtagging their easy runs, sprints, long runs and fartleks with #GlobalRunningDay. It’s a day to celebrate the common bond runners share, perhaps encouraging a few others to join our tribe.
Global Running Day also gives me a chance to celebrate. Today, I completed my second run since surgery — really a jog on the treadmill, basically power hike speed without the elevation changes. But it was a run and it felt fantastic. I have a long way to go but I am light years from where I started.
A little bit more than seven years ago, I stepped out my front door for a run. Down the street I went, not knowing where running would take me. It was an inauspicious start as I stopped three times, puked in the driveway and thought I was going to die.
But since then running has taken me to races in 18 states, winning and placing in my age group a handful of times, qualifying for the Boston Marathon twice, and completing five ultras to date.
“Never limit where running can take you,” Bart Yasso told me in an interview in the twilight of his career at Runner’s World as Chief Running Officer.
Of course, I paused my running to fully recover — and am slowly building back up. I missed the physical aspect of running, as well as the feeling brought on by a sense of accomplishment, whether that was knocking off another training run, hitting a mileage goal or rocking out a set of Yasso 800s.
The speed, the distance and the exhilaration will all come back as I get stronger. While the surgery prevented me from this year’s big goal — my first 100K — I have other goals lined up this year. Running the Chicago Marathon, completing my third 50-miler and building back toward that elusive 100K next spring.
But here’s the thing — as my running shoes and gear lay dormant, waiting for me, there’s one key aspect that I didn’t miss. It was the running community.
The heart of the running community
My running friends, most of whom I only know virtually, supported me on social media throughout my ordeal. They sent well wishes on a speedy recovery, encouraged me as I healed and enthusiastically congratulated me on my first slow run post surgery.
All in all, I feel fortunate that I was out of commission for less than a month. Other runners have dealt with far more serious setbacks — injuries that have pushed them to the couch for months, or even a year or longer.
But the heart of the running community beats for all of us. We understand the struggles. We understand the dedication. We understand disappointment.
Every day, runners show their support for one another with a like on social media, a high-five on the trail or volunteering at a local race.
On Global Running Day, I feel emboldened and empowered by my fellow runners. Thank you to everyone who ever offered another runner encouragement, a training tip, a “way to go” on social media, or any other form of support.
Happy Global Running Day, fellow runners. I’m glad to be part of the tribe.