I don’t remember the last time I simply went for a run outside.

It’s not something I’ve enjoyed for quite a while. But, the second I got home from work today and opened the window, I smelled the fresh air and knew I needed to run. My body registered the transition from summer to fall and I immediately craved something I strongly associate with fall.

I ran cross country in high school, so as soon as the air feels crisp and cool, I am reminded of breathing air deeply into my lungs while running. It’s a very positive emotion; however, it is accompanied by pain. It becomes harder to breathe while you run; your chest and throat feel like they are constricting as your body works harder to bring in oxygen. It’s almost the same exact physical feeling of being emotionally distraught.

Last fall was the lowest I have ever felt in my life for a few reasons. I felt deeply sad, lonely, and discouraged. But, I am thankful for every challenge that was put on my path because I came out of last fall stronger, more resilient, and with a much greater sense of what I want in my life.

Today’s run brought a lot of nostalgia and memories, good and bad. But it also brought a sense of community. There were so many other people being active outside alone: running, biking, walking. I felt a community even while I was alone. There is a great skill in knowing how to be alone. I navigate the world alone a lot, which at times can be immensely rewarding, yet also lonely. It’s a bit like the way many things feel in life: bittersweet.

Life was, and is, never supposed to be easy. The highlight reel we see on Instagram sometimes tricks our brains into thinking it should be. But there is so much power in recognizing and allowing yourself to feel all the emotions: the good, the bad, and the bittersweet. And also allowing your body to tell you what it needs. Because, man, it felt good to run.

Fall, my favorite season, I welcome you with each cool inhale.

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