Running Inspiration: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

 
Image from Jamessproject 

Image from Jamessproject 

There are times when inspiration pops up in the least likely of places. For Runner Emma Salkild, she developed a new outlook on her running after reading non-fiction book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. 

In this bestselling memoir we follow the journey of 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed who has set herself the goal to hike 1,770km of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), a wilderness path that runs across Mexico, California, Washington, Oregon and Canada. The impetus for her decision was to help her deal with her heroin addiction, her mother’s death and the breakdown of her own marriage.

While this book isn’t about running, as a runner myself I drew comparisons between her journey and a runner’s journey. Even Strayed mentions this in an interview with Bookanista:

Some people will say, ‘God you were in so much pain, didn’t you have any fun?’ I had a blast! But it was a kind of blast that you have that’s really hard! I’ve been a long-distance runner in the past, and trained for a marathon. Is it fun? It’s painful. I’m always glad when the run is over. It’s a kind of retrospective fun. You’re glad you did it!”  

The most remarkable part of this story is her determination and commitment. She makes a goal and sticks to it. She pushes herself through heat and blizzards, even when her toenails are ripped off and her back is blistered and bruised beyond recognition.

As a runner I can feel like there are many bumps in my road be it a blister or boob chafing or a literal bump that made me fall so badly I didn’t know if I could get up again. I could question these knockbacks as a sign to stop.

Yes, it’s important for me to acknowledge my boundaries, take rest days and listen to my body. Strayed accepts she is slower than the people she meets on the trail but she refuses to let it impact her. She sets her own pace and sticks to it because this adventure isn’t about others. It’s about her needs and her goals.

The three months she spent on the PCT gave Strayed unique and beautiful experiences she will cherish for the rest of her life. She met interesting people who touched her soul (and a few creeps as well). Most importantly, she developed self-acceptance and self-love. So the next time I feel like throwing in the towel, or my running shoes, I am going to think of Strayed and continue on my hard but humbling running journey.

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