A week ago, my Sunday run was so excruciatingly awful I seriously had thoughts of quitting running. At the very least, I wanted to toss aside any aspirations I had of running long distances. Having gone out for four hours, temperatures approaching ninety degrees beat me into a whimpering mess after only half a run. I bailed early, way early and dehydrated and demoralized came home, sat on my porch and felt sorry for myself.
In an earlier blog this year, I’d promised myself that I was going to run with a different mindset than I have previously. That I was going to let go of some old voices that spent way too much time in my head and move on to a more positive frame of mind. I haven’t had a whole lot of success with this and in the more difficult moments of that insufferable run, I was relentless in my negativity.
So, yesterday, when it was pouring rain out and the wind was blowing and I had three hours on the schedule, I didn’t feel much like getting it done. Dressed and heading for the door, I grimaced at my wife and said, “This ought to be great.” And like she always does, Lulu hit me with something that I couldn’t appreciate until I was a little farther down the road. “Hey, at least it’s not ninety degrees out.” Though I couldn’t get my head there, my wife was (as usual) looking at the bright side of things.
I got to the trail and ripped off several laps around my Mile Hill Climb. Churning my way up the mudslick path, I was throwing mental darts at a couple of people that had pissed me off recently. Chewing on the venom of resentment, I got myself worked up pretty good: the voices in the ol’ noggin were going fortissimo and I kept going faster and angrier with every step. And then out of nowhere, I suddenly told myself to shut up, turn off the things I can’t control and focus on the moment that was right there in front of me.
It wasn’t a perfect day for running. It was cold and wet but as Lulu had pointed out, it wasn’t ninety degrees and the cooler temps were so much easier on my 43 year old body. I decided to love the weather. Instead of thinking about all the assholes in the world, I decided to just think about taking the next stride, relaxing my body from the shoulders down and if I had to think of anything, I thought only about how much stronger I was getting by being out there.
After an hour and forty minutes, I knew I was on to something really special. Though I’d been running ridiculously hard, I was mentally and physically fresh. Heading into a hilly portion of single track, I charged up the hill with a big, freaking smile on my face. With forty minutes to go, I was literally laughing out loud at hills that should have made me whimper with the same humiliation I’d experienced last week. On a couple of occasions, I’d start to listen to the voice that yells but as soon as I heard him, I thought, “Where’s the fun guy? I want to run with him.” And just like that I’d be back to smiling and having a grand old time.
I finished up, soaked to the skin but oblivious to any aches or pains. For the first time in several weeks, my sciatica was under control and I didn’t have any numbness in my foot. Most of all, I was happy to have gotten the run in and was totally in love with the sport once again.
Things had changed from last week. The temperature was different, I’d gotten a massage to help with the sciatica but more than anything my mind was different. I stayed positive on a hard day, I laughed instead of whined and I enjoyed myself when I could have easily suffered.
In my head, I know this is how I should approach every day but putting it in to practice is definitely a case of progress not perfection.