My previous professional existence required me to spend numerous hours in a cube. Often times, it felt like a cage. While I was not imprisoned per se, I felt hemmed in and limited.
It wasn't just the physical space that made me feel this way. The work itself felt limiting. There were aspects of my work that were interesting and challenging at times, but if I looked at what I was really producing at the end of the day, it was far from inspiring.
I showed up. I attended meetings. I shuffled papers. I spoke the language all employees were trained to speak. I delivered my deliverables. I went through the motions. My heart wasn't in anything I was doing.
I felt like a fraud. I became anxious that somehow my colleagues would find out the truth. They would find out that I didn't enjoy being there. They would find out I was just going through the motions. I didn't have a great poker face, surely they would find me out.
It was right around the time that I became completely disenchanted with my job that I experienced a veritable renaissance with my running. While my existence in the office was a sham, there was nothing false or fake about my running.
Every time I laced up my shoes, my heart was in it. Every mile was an affirmation that I was on the right path. I never felt like a square peg when I ran. I never had to navigate an onerous and bureaucratic morass in order to go for a run.
No meeting was required to discuss how far or how fast I was going to run. I didn't need to run my decision by a committee of people before I headed to the track.
I could work my ass off in the office and never get a promotion. But, with running it was always a meritocracy. If you do the work, eventually you will be rewarded. Eventually, you will get faster. You will taste success. No amount of schmoozing or political maneuvering can score you a personal best. You simply have to earn it.
I started to wonder if I could make running my job. I had no illusions I was anywhere close to being able to run at the professional level, but my passion for the sport surely would take me somewhere. Surely, it would take me somewhere better than the cube.
Nearly a decade later, I have running to thank for liberating me from the cube. I still spend numerous hours at a monitor pounding away on my keyboard, but it's on my terms. If I decide I've had enough, I can simply get up and head out. So, I run because the cube just isn't for me....