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Sara Stover

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to be a soul runner

“What are you training for this year?” It’s been one year since I was asked that question. It was assumed that my answer would be “The ____ triathlon” or “Ironman” as it has been since, oh, 2009ish!

Not only did my answer not include a swim, bike, run event, but it didn’t include a specific race at all. Last year was a crappy-ish year.

And last year, as January came to a close, I was far from convinced that I would ever run again. Consuming a cocktail of TFL pain mistakenly blamed on a labral tear, a heart tear, and the overwhelming need to tear myself away from upstate NY and find someplace conducive to healing meant that ANY race that included some fashion of running was not even on my radar. And bike racing ain’t my thing, so…

So I moved. I healed. And I resumed my soul’s search for an answer to that question. It eventually became clear that I could run again, but I flinched a little at the thought of having to give anyone a definitive answer.

“Please, don’t ask me what I’m training for. Please” I silently begged. Not because I wasn’t sure. No, the problem is, I was. It only took about 5 accrued hours on the Mine Falls trails to know I was training for some trail ultra. When and where are still unclear, but my heart is already at some enigmatic start line, ready to tear down some trail strewn with roots and rocks for hours and hours! And my legs… They are a little slow at catching on to the plan, but I trust that they’ll get on board eventually!

Because a funny thing often happens when we lose it all though. We find out what our souls really want. I found out that after 20 months away from triathlon, I didn’t miss it, because it was no longer my dream. My heart was calling me back to my roots in running… and the roots of a dusty, dreamy trail. With running back in my life, I couldn’t deny that it was what I truly wanted! To focus on my relationship with running, free from what had become for me the stress of staring at a lane line or a power meter.

“What are you training for?”

The problem is, my answer seemed too simple.

“Oh, just some trail races. I’m just running these days” me, sheepishly.

JUST running?! Is there some reason why I feel inadequate and that my answer is insufficient? Is there a stigma about returning to running, as if I have somehow downgraded my status as an athlete?

Maybe it’s time to fight that stigma, even if it’s just in my head. Yes, I am JUST a runner. No, I haven’t fallen off the fitness bandwagon! I have simply chosen a path (trail) that feeds my soul. I am dwelling in this mesmerizing place where my watch is just on my wrist to remind me that it’s almost 7:30am and I should emerge from the woods and head to work. My soul is madly in love with running again! Even the treadmill runs. Even those runs where the winter wind makes me more than a little impatient for warmer days.

And that’s how true love goes! There will be days when you feel that you are running in place, getting nowhere. Days when you wonder if the sun is on a permanent vacation, and you don’t quite feel like going the extra mile. But you do, because your soul knows that some relationships are beyond worth it. You embrace the hard aspects, and celebrate the beautiful, priceless, lifelong results.

You know what you’re after, and will sell that bike and do that strength training just to remain under the spell of something so pure and passionate that it possesses you, somehow leaving your soul complete in its simplicity.

“What are you training for this year?” It’s been one year since I was asked that question. I can clearly see the miles that my soul dreams of covering stretched out before me. Where I start, and when I finish may be shrouded in mystery and possibility. But I will tell you with full certainty and confidence who I am and what I am training for…

I am training to be a soul runner.

This entry was posted in Life.
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