Ok, it’s time for another metaphorical post. Many of you know that I am a runner. I have competed for over half of my life, and am about to start competing again. A good or bad day depends on how my run went that morning. Luckily, I have been working on finding other outlets, like reading, writing and blogging.
When I went out for my run this morning, I was hit with a blog post idea. (Most of my ideas come while running. It’s Murphy’s Law. No computer or pencil and paper in sight. I may have to start carrying a Dictaphone with me. )
The idea was that my life is like a training run. I was able to compile a short list of comparisons between my daily life, and my running. And I thought it would be fun to share.
So here goes.
The top 5 reasons how my life compares to running.
1. All it takes is that first step.
Sometimes, I don’t want to get out of bed and run. It’s early, it’s dark, and my bed is warm and snuggly.
I grumble and groan, and throw the blankets and pillows around, hoping to wake up hubby. (Misery loves company, right? If I have to be awake, he should be too! )
I stumble around, brush my teeth, drink some water, and put on my jog bra and shorts, and socks and shoes. In the area I live, the heat and humidity are already high. No reason to wear anything else.
Then I step out the door, and take my first short stride. As I continue to run, my stride lengthens, my pace quickens, and I relax into the run.
It’s a wonderful feeling, the fresh air, and solitude, feeling my body’s movements, in tune with my surroundings. And I would have missed it, if I hadn’t taken that first step.
Sometimes, life is like that. I may be grumpy or not in the right mindset to do something new and challenging. But if I take that first step, I almost always surprise myself, and find that I actually enjoy whatever activity it is. But I have to be willing to take the first step.
2. Out and back runs are good for laziness.
Sometimes, I get lazy. I don’t want to finish a whole 5 miler, I’m bored, or lonely.
(or sometimes, I come up with great ideas for a story or blog post, and want to rush back home). But I know that doing the whole planned workout is what is going to get me to my goal. So I force myself to finish the whole run, by doing an out and back run.
It’s just what it implies.
Out and back.
If I go 2 miles out, and get bored or lazy, there is no way I can shorten it and quit early. I have to go back the same two miles. There are no short cuts. This forces me to stick to my game plan, even when I don’t want to.
In real life, I have a support network. People and events strategically placed, so when I have to absolutely get something done, I will.
I call this my house cleaning 911.
The surest way to get me to clean up the house, is to invite people over for dinner. I scramble around for a few hours, frantically hiding toys and extra laundry, throwing away moldy cookies that somehow found their way under the couch.
(How the heck did that get there? Hey honey, isn’t that from Easter?)
My husband and I jokingly say that if we want to clean the house, we’ll plan to host a party that weekend. 🙂
3. Running is tough, it hurts sometimes!
Some of my former workouts were so tough, I shudder to remember them.
5 by mile repeats at sub 5:30 pace. Ugh.
Yes, they were tough.
But once they were finished, I was stronger, faster, and ready to take on whatever workout was thrown at me next. And as I pushed through one grueling workout after another, I knew that my goal was reachable.
I’m happy to say that my best season ever ended with a top 5 finish in a huge ten miler (61:49 PR). It was worth it. All that hard work had come to fruition. It meant something.
Life can be a hard sometimes also. There are always ups and downs, struggles, battles to be fought.
They can be little, like trying to get a child to eat her hamburger as she loudly protests that she is a vegetarian; or big, like trying to get hubby to come on board with a new relationship that he doesn’t quite understand.
But pushing through it, and trying to have faith that there is a finish line, there is a huge goal to be reached, helps.
After the struggling and pushing have finished, I find myself stronger, ready for the next event. And I am thankful for making it though that last event.
4. Everyone has a different max threshold.
My favorite distance runner, Deena Kastor (2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon, and American Record holder) has an amazing Max VO2 threshold, and capacity. Her lungs and body are able to do amazing things that my body can’t even begin to emulate.
While she can run back to back 5:10 miles, I run 5:45 miles (or at least I did six years ago). She can run several miles at the same pace as my fastest single mile.
But if I am trying my hardest, and working at the highest level my lungs and legs will allow me, does this make my efforts and achievements any less valid than hers?
I used to coach high school cross country and track. One of my athletes was an asthmatic teenager who could barely run ½ a mile without needing her inhaler.
Through a slow, but steady workout regimen, we were able to get her not only running, but racing. By the end of the season, she was racing 5K, keeping up with the other mid pack runners, and was the Captain of the team.
I have never been more proud of someone’s achievement, and I still cry sometimes when I think about how hard she worked to achieve her goals.
But she was just a 23 minute 5K’er. Compared to my 17:40 5K, that should be negligent, right? Just as my times are compared to Deena?
In life, everyone has a different threshold, different goals, different pausing points, and different talents. Is any one’s achievement any greater than another person’s?
I have to remind myself of this every once in a while. I will do the best I can in whatever situation I am in. And I shouldn’t compare myself to others’ successes, and feel like a failure if I don’t compete on their level.
I can only truly compete with myself, be the best I can be, and work to the highest of my own abilities.
My threshold is my threshold.
5. Running should be fun!
Yes, sometimes running is hard work, it’s a job, it’s tiring, and overwhelming, and can be not much fun.
But it shouldn’t always be this way. Sometimes it’s necessary to lose the watch, forget about courses and overall time, and just enjoy the run.
It’s fun to go out, and watch the scenery, use your senses, people watch, daydream, or run with a group and crack silly jokes and laugh the whole time. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, and it is positive and energy producing.
Does it help with the overall goal of the big race at the end of the season?
Yes! It’s a release, a chance to let everything go and start fresh, coming back able to work even harder with the next workout.
It is just as necessary to have fun and enjoy the run, as it is to train hard.
Life is like this for me.
Sometime, I have to drop everything, being a wife, a mom, a role model, a runner, a writer… I throw on my shorts, tank top and tennis shoes, and play with the kids.
I play hopscotch, I climb trees, and I beam the neighborhood kids with water balloons, and laugh when they start crying. (Ok, I don’t really laugh at them. That would be mean. )
It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, and energy building, while simultaneously releasing negative energy. I love it!
Sometimes I set up dance parties with some of the kids. (Ok, the adults just laugh at me when I dance. I’m not exactly known for my smooth moves).
The kids love it! We all slide across the hard wood floors, jump over the couch, shake our bodies, and yell at the top of our lungs, while singing to some crazy song with lyrics we don’t understand.
Oppa Gangnam Style, anyone?
So running is my life, and life is like my running.
Sometimes, it‘s hard, and I need help to push through.
I need my support network to either push me or give me positive affirmation to keep me going every once in a while.
I have to be ok with the fact that I’m doing the best I can, and remember not to judge myself or others in accomplishments.
And most importantly, I need to remember to stop everything and just enjoy it.
There’s a time for working hard, and there’s a time for dancing like a crazy woman.
To all the “runners” out there, no matter what your “run” is…