By Myrna P. Hoover

Life is about changes – most things never stay the same. Running, like life, changes as we age. We slow, we reexamine our focus, goals are rewritten and change is inevitable. Yet, as I look at the changes in my life and the changes in my running- I know it is the “constants” in my running that have and will continue to help me accept and even endure these changes.

As a new college student, running took the place of high school sports. The “physical-ness” of running filled the need of an athlete who was no longer on a team. Each day running gave me reason to be physical, to move my body, to show effort, to strive as an athlete again. The comfort found in my daily runs got me through an important transition; the footfalls of my running became a constant in my life.

The change of going to graduate school brought the need to work multiple jobs, study late hours, and struggle to find a professional place in this world. All the while, running remained a constant. Each day regardless of the work that needed to be done, the papers that needed to be written, or the resumes that needed to be mailed, the running shoes went on and the run became a time to regroup and plan my next move, my next change. The footfalls of my run helped me to find the next path in my life.

Each day my early professional life was coupled with time spent for a run. A routine was established. Running was a constant thread in each day’s routine until pregnancy shattered this schedule. As my body and my thoughts changed, I found pride and comfort in the constancy of my runs. The fear and joy of becoming a parent was overwhelming. Runs were often about the reassurance that I would still always be me and there would still be a time and a place where things were familiar and safe. The footfalls of each run gave me a place of security for the challenge ahead.

Early morning feedings, diaper changing, chasing toddlers, making meals, bandaging bumps and bruises, and pursuing a career assured me that change was a way of life. The 5 a.m. run seemed to be the only constant in a crazy day – my only refuge from the tiring pace of a working mother. Running in the early hours of the day gave me the courage to face the rest of the day, the physical strength to endure it, – and the time away to appreciate it. The footfalls of my run helped me to find peace.

After 17 years of marriage, divorce brought changes in every aspect of my life. No longer was there a partner to share my hopes and fears with -no one to share the changes of my life. Running was the only thing that didn’t change. I ran to understand, to evaluate, to make decisions, and to look to the future. I ran to have something in my life that would not change. The familiar footfalls of the run gave me hope.

In two weeks, I will marry my best friend, the love of my life. Change will come – to me, to him, to the family we are trying to create. Each day there will be a struggle to face our changes with the courage and hope that comes with new beginnings. Each day we will need the ability to adapt, grow, and seek new ways of doing things. The clearness of thought and the soothing of worries obtained from our daily run will no doubt help us face these beginnings. I hope that the footfalls of our runs will give us clarity of our thoughts and dreams, and the strength to fulfill them.

Life and living is about change. Some changes are good, some bad. Each with and in itself affects who we are and who we want to be. Regardless of these changes, my running has given me a time and a place that remains in many ways unchanged. It is my time, my place, “to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I’ll meet you at the finish….