Monday, February 5, 2007

Metaphors run wild

I have been meaning to post for days... Lots of little things going on that are worth pausing and writing about. No excuse aside from laziness. I am heading on a sub-24 hour trip to Florida tomorrow, and hopefully I'll find some peace and quiet on the plane to gather my thoughts.

In the interim, I thought I would post a small essay I put together a while ago. It is related to running, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. I think it explains some of why I like the activity. If nothing else, it underscores the fact that it is one of the few places that I can follow a single thought for an extended period of time. Definitely something to be said for that!

On the running note, I ran 10 miles yesterday. In the snow, on one of my favorite trails. It was totally great, even if my left hip is predictably sore today. Oh, and I forgot to apply Glide to the chafe-prone parts, which was a mistake. Ouch.

Thus, without further introduction, some things I have learned from (or while) running:

1. It’s never too late to start: I hated running as a kid, even though I was a multi-sport athlete. It always seemed boring and lonely. I didn’t start to consider it as an option until I was well into my 20s, and then I wondered if I was too old to start. I finally let all of that go and went out the door.

2. I can do anything: When I first started running, I only ran after dark, as I was embarrassed at my lack of speed and endurance. I also started in the early winter, as I knew less people would be around. I had to work hard to run for 30 minutes without stopping. I knew that if I just kept at it, I would eventually get there. I came to believe that if I could achieve this small goal, I could achieve anything. I think about that every time I pass the 30 minute mark, which at this point is routine.

3. No one else is going to run for you: Even if they did, it would be of no benefit to you. There are many things in life that we can task out, but there will always be things we must do on our own. These are generally the things that impact us most personally.

4. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see something new. Something always happens that makes it worthwhile. I can’t predict when it will happen, but inevitably it does. Usually it is something small – seeing two ducks pair in the spring, watching a new flower bloom, smelling the trees. Even when I run indoors there is something unique. With practice, you start to stay alert to see what the world will offer up that day.

5. Use what you’ve got. I am not a fast runner. I do not aspire to run a marathon. I’ve tried these things and hurt myself. Only after pushing myself to the point of injury did I allow the possibility that setting limits and sticking to them is just as good as running the Boston marathon with a sub-8 mile time.

6. Even a task I don’t enjoy can turn into something good: I always dislike the first five minutes of a run. This hasn’t changed in all the years I have taken to running as a regular activity. I often think I should just give up, that this isn’t a good day to run, that I am to tired, etc. etc. Then I remind myself that I always hate the first five minutes, and I just try to stay patient until – before you know it – I am past the initial doubts.

7. If you can’t stay still, then move. Regardless of how distracted or stressed I feel prior to tying my laces and hitting the road, I always feel calmer and happy afterwards. Knowing this has saved me from myself on a number of occasions.

8. Sometimes, it is all in your head: Inevitably, some of your energy is depleted on any given run. Many times I tell myself I should stop for a minute, even though I know that this will only make it harder to start again. However, if I take the time to listen to my body, I can tell whether it is my muscles that are tired, or just my mind that wants to give in. I often find that my mind doesn’t give my body the credit it deserves, and I can continue without much effort. Being mindful about what is really going on makes the difference.

9. Effort takes effort: I may have improved my skills over the years, but running still makes me tired. As obvious as it is, it didn’t dawn on me immediately that running should make you expend energy every time you do it. The very act of running takes energy. Understanding that fatigue happens, and that you can still keep going regardless was an important factor in helping me to enjoy even the days that didn’t seem all that fun.

10. Persistence pays off: The simple act of one foot in front of another, when repeated, gets you far.

If you have any others you think I should add, please share!

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