Finding Joy in Running

Running is perhaps the most paradoxical addiction one can develop.  It is about finding a balance between patience and speed, between pleasure and pain, and between love and hate.  Yet, despite all of this, running makes me deliriously joyful.

Running has been a therapeutic ritual for me for the past fifteen years of my life.  It began when I was twelve and I ran off the energy of my youth.  At 5’5″ tall- which, I will have you know, is still my current height- I was also one of the tallest and quickest girls on my cross country and track teams.  As my peers began passing me up in height and stride, I discovered that the joy of running was not in competing with others but in competing with myself.  I continued running on my own into high school, where I used it as a tool for emotional release. Running continued to be an important part of my life through college and when I moved out to rural northeast Iowa  for my first professional job.  Out there, I learned the struggles of running the hills of the Oneota Valley, where I trained for my first half-marathon, the 2009 Cellcom.  It was also there that I ran my first three miler. And six miler. And ten miler. And twelve miler.  It was there that I finally considered myself a runner.

Since my first race, I have run numerous half-marathons, 5Ks, and 10Ks.  I have learned how to (and how not to) train for a race.  I have also endured several frustrating running-related injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, hip flexor injuries, knee pain, bunions, and chafing. Oh, the chafing!  Though I have moved between Appleton, Wisconsin, Decorah, Iowa, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Peoria, Illinois, where I currently live, running has always stayed with me.

I don’t run for speed as goodness knows I am never going to win a race.  I run for me.  I don’t care whether I do an 8-minute-mile or a 12-minute-mile.  What matters to me is I am running and I am enjoying myself.  I encourage you all to do the same.  Don’t become discouraged and overwhelmed by your training.  Enjoy your running. Do it for yourself.  Do it because you and the road happen to be in the same place at the same time and you make such beautiful music together.

Melanie Heindl


1 thought on “Finding Joy in Running

  1. Melanie, like you, I will never win a race but run for myself and the enjoyment. I have met very few, albeit there are some, running snobs that are overly concerned about time or distance, but most know you only compete against yourself. Isn’t it fantastic?

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