As my alarm rouses me from sleep, telling me it's time to get up and run, It feels like my whole body is groaning. This tension exists between craving more rest and needing to stretch out the aches I feel every morning. Staying in bed is such a temptation, but knowing that my daughter will be waking soon helps me to stick with my plan to run. I know that running will reap far greater benefits than an extra ten minutes in bed will. So I get up, pull on my running clothes, pop my ear buds in and go. It sounds so simple, just typing it out like that, but the reality always feels so much harder. When my body and mind battle to keep me in bed that little bit longer, sometimes, the only thing that spurs me on is the prospect of finding beauty outdoors.
I often lament the fact that our neighbourhood is not particularly beautiful, because beauty is inspiring, and rubbish littering the pavements is not. But I know that if I look carefully, I will find beauty in the smallest and most surprising places. There's beauty in the mist that shrouds the railway line and changes the way everything looks, painting a picture in muted colours. The more I run, the more I realise and remember that beauty doesn't come without growth. And growth is often painful. The beauty that I adore in Springtime only happens because of the death of Winter. Becoming strong again after my body carried a baby has been painful and painfully slow. But exercise has stretched me mentally, and strengthened me physically.
I see these lessons about beauty and growth all around me. In the bulbs that I planted while I was heavily pregnant with Ruby, and in the spider's web on my run, carefully spun and hung with morning dew before the sun burns through the clouds. There is often a point during my running where I hit a stride that makes me feel like I am flying; when the mental battle to just get going has been overcome, and I have taken enough steps that my feet remember what to do without me willing them forward in a jog, that flying feeling comes. And I am reminded once again that exercise is always, always worth it.