It isn’t often that a non-runner asks me about my training or running, but it does happen. Usually it is to comment on the overstated health benefits of running versus a sedentary lifestyle. Other times it is to subtly suggest that perhaps all this running isn’t exactly a sane adult pastime.

Occasionally, though, someone will ask out of genuine curiosity or mild admiration. Eventually, the talk turns to miles run which leads to training which leads to time. As I explain that, for someone like me, a 30 mile running week in combination with some cross-training means a major commitment of time, the conversation shifts from admiration to astonishment.

“How do you find the time?” they ask. Or more often they simply say, “I just wouldn’t have that kind of time.” At about this point in the conversation, their attention drifts to the more important matters of their day and I am left to recount my adventures to myself.

It’s a good question, though. Where do we find the time? How do we carve out the minutes or hours in our day for running? What makes it possible for us to squeeze this extra activity into an otherwise overstuffed life?

In the years before running, I didn’t have the time either. In those years when I was convinced that the fate of humanity rested squarely on my shoulders, in those years when I was sure that the absolute center of the universe was never more than an arm’s length away, I didn’t have time to run. I was much too busy.

How could there be time? After all, didn’t my every action cause a dramatic shift in the cosmic balance? Wasn’t the fate of the entire world held tenuously in my hands? Wasn’t I completely out of touch with my own sense of importance? Of course!

Given my self-imagined significance, I couldn’t dream of relinquishing control of my destiny for even 20 minutes a day. How could I? What would I miss if I was out of touch? How would those people whose lives I struggled so desperately to lead for them behave without my constant influence?

But something strange happened as I began to find the time to run. In those early days when I shuffled for 30 minutes, I discovered that the world got along just fine without me. As hard as it was for me to believe, no disasters occurred.

In fact, no one seemed to notice that I was missing. Little by little, as the miles and hours got longer, I realized that my being gone from work or family really didn’t matter. It turned out that I wasn’t nearly as important to the fate of even my immediate world as I thought.

Suddenly, I was liberated. Letting go of my illusion of control meant that time was no longer an issue. In fact, I had nothing but time. Time to run, time to laugh, time to live.

Where do we find the time to run? It’s there for us, we just need to seize it. With every step we make the time we need. With every mile we create the time of our lives.

Waddle on, friends.

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