If I died right now, I would have no regrets.
That’s what I was thinking about driving away from the track last Wednesday after demolishing a 6×800 workout, I was in complete bliss.
Of course, things didn’t start out so rosy. I’d left work in a mood. Depressed about where I was in my career, feeling a little “less than,” totally uninspired to step out of my car on a cold, windy evening with the sun diving fast over the trees. On the phone my wife encouraged me to “skip it,” come home to some steak and potatoes, forget about the run, –just relax. It was so tempting, so reasonable. But I was there in the High School parking lot and I had felt so insignificant at work, I knew I had to do something, even if it was running around in circles, racing nobody but my Ironman.
The first quarter went by in an 79 easy seconds and I knew I’d done the right thing. With each rotation I felt stronger. Earlier that day, my friend had given me an NYT article on relaxing when you run and I embraced the suggestions I found there. Coming down the straightaways, I didn’t try to power my way through with my arms. Turnover rate was at the top of my priority list instead of stride length. In the turns, I kept my eyes in a “sleepy” kind of half-open state, my jaw relaxed, my shoulders dropped. Every time around, I got stronger and stronger.
A woman walking with her dog and son said during a rest lap, “I can’t believe how fast you’re running.” It made me smile, it made me feel significant, even if it was only for a couple of moments on a High School track. The feeling was important, the situation, the circumstance not so much.
When I was finished, I got back in my car and the day was winking out. Making a left hand turn out of the lot, I knew I could die a happy man and I thought about what that meant. I see a lot of people trying really hard to do a lot of stuff and I’m very impressed with their effort and frankly, glad for it. They make the economy go, their dollars pay for the goods that drive the advertising that pays for my work on television. I get it, I appreciate it. But at the end of the day, I’m glad I don’t really need much to make me happy. A little bit of hard work, a goal or two to try and achieve and the importance of relaxing when things get tough: it’s not much but it pays dividends.