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The easiest part of my training schedule is running and making physical gains. I run because it pushes me physically and mentally and I love the challenge. I can tighten my abs and block out any amount of physical pain. I live for the opportunity to throw my body into the “fire”. I grow through perseverance, and I persevere for the opportunity to do it again. I have learned to run through any amount of physical pain, and consider the resulting endorphins the litmus test for a job well done. I truly believe that running gets more out of me, than I do out of it. When I’m on the trail, nothing else exists and I see the world through an unparalleled sense of clarity. There’s another side to running, however; a side that inhabits the grey area of my motivation, and thwarts my spirit. It can leave me deeply conflicted over my purpose in life; questioning all that I have achieved and all that I haven’t.
When I started training for my first marathon, I was spending one or two hours away from my family every evening, around dinner time. When I started training for my first ultra-marathon, my mileage increased while my family time decreased. It wasn’t long before the guilt crept in… I began to imagine everything I was missing out on at home, and doubting the sustainability of this ‘running thing’. I was horribly lonely while running, and anxiously awaiting my next run when I was with the family. What do you do when your stress-reliever becomes a source of stress?
Live in the present, because it’s the only existence we are certain of
The past is unwavering, and the future is uncertain. Allowing the mind to rest in an insecure foundation, will most certainly lead to an insecure mind. When I began to allow my mind to live in the present without worry of the past and consequence of the future, I started to truly enjoy life.
Throughout my life, I am presented with situations that I cannot control. I can only control the way I react to them.
Clarity is best achieved through meditation. The simplest and most effective way to meditate is by focusing on the control of any autonomic function; the easiest being our breathing. Allow your mind to rest while taking total control of every inhale and exhale. Our entire lives, we have allowed our minds to worry about things we cannot change, subsequently it will take a while to reverse the habit. Practice meditating and you will eventually learn to release negative thoughts with ease. Practice this skill while running by releasing the feelings of guilt, and permitting your thoughts to rest in their natural state of acceptance.
We can learn a thing or two from dogs. My dog doesn’t allow rational thought to interfere with his pursuit of happiness. Why are dog’s so unwaveringly optimistic even when they are faced with the greatest of hardships? It’s because they live entirely in the moment.
Seize the moment when it arrives
There are many times that I don’t go out for a run until everyone else is asleep. I always stay up later than the rest of my family anyway, so instead of drinking beer and watching TV, I decided to use this time for my runs. Running at night brings about a sense of calm that is unmatched, and I don’t have to miss any family time. Recognize the opportunity to run, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.
Make every run and workout count. If you feel good after your run, then you probably didn’t accomplish much. If you’re dealing with a limited amount of time, then think about doing intervals or hill repeats. If you have the entire afternoon to yourself, then use this precious alone-time for a long run. Regardless of how busy you are, if something is important then you will find time for it.