A balance I’ve yet to discover: I don’t want to run too often, because I feel strongest when my whole being craves a run. But I’m training for a marathon! I can’t not run too often. These muscles need to stay active. Besides, I don’t want to lose the habit.

Speaking of habits: I am stretching ALL the time. This has been the single hardest point of discipline in my training, but it’s the biggest piece of the game. Runners, you must stretch. No excuses. Just stretch. Do it right now. Stop reading this and stretch. A mantra I’ve found myself repeating: If I can make time to run, I can make time to stretch. Seriously. Are you stretching right now? I told you to go stretch.

So, on we go. Another five weeks. There have been moments these past fifteen that I can’t quite find the words to describe. Moments when I’ve brushed my hand across my thigh and nearly jumped back in surprise at the muscle. Moments I’ve slipped my foot into a running shoe and felt a newfound comfort of familiarity. Moments most of all when I’ve caught the pattern of my breath on a run, gliding and steady, unable to recall the last mile I stopped.

These are the moments I’ll treasure most at the end of this. These are the moments I realize the privilege and surprise this has been. It’s a subtle feeling but it’s growing, and it’s a feeling that fills me with laughter and humility and pride and joy to know without hesitation—I am a runner.