Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Lifetime of Running


I started training on September 1st for the Route 66 Half Marathon.  I’ve missed a lot of training runs.  The first couple of weeks were good, but the last couple of weeks have been bad.  I’ve missed them due to allowing myself to fall victim to my own excuses.  Nevertheless, I choose to continue training.

Today, an 8 mile run was on the schedule.  The most I’ve done in the last month was 4 miles.  I expected today to be rough.  I refused to NOT do the run because I hadn’t been training.  That mindset won’t get me prepared for the goal to which I’ve committed.  Rough or not, it must be done.
I’m not at home today.  I’m not in my familiar territory.  I don’t know good running routes.  I don’t know the paths along the way.  I asked about a couple of the main roads, trying to find a route that would allow me to run 4 miles out and 4 miles back.  Simple.  No maze running, zigzagging, or endless loops.  The person I asked walks and only ever 3.1 miles on the same path, always.  That same path would have required my running 10-12 loops to cover the 8 miles needed.  I get bored easily.  Getting bored in a workout of any sort is never a good thing.  It is too easy to quit before the intended end.

I needed a plan.  I pulled up MapMyRun.com and looked up the city to see routes other users of the app had taken in the past.  I found a simple rectangle route that was just under 7 miles.  On the map, I could see one area where I could easily lengthen the route and hoped that would get me to the 8 miles I needed.  I made note of the street names marking my turns…on the back of my hand.  My memory isn’t that great and it is less so when I’m tired.  I wasn’t leaving this to chance.  The run itself was already going to be a rough one, afterall.  Why make it more difficult or expose myself to an easy opportunity to not finish what I started?

I set out the door with my planned route.  I did something different for my run today.  Normally, I listen to music while I run to help me maintain my pace.  Sadly, I’ve not taken the time to create a playlist with songs of similar beat.  That has resulted in my running too fast too soon.  For that reason, today I opted to listen to an audio book while I ran.  I chose Zig Ziglar’s “How to Stay Motivated.”  I really like Zig’s personal development books.  I highly recommend them.  I also opted to turn off the audio feedback on the Nike+ app I use to track my miles.  I was actually trying to see if the fitbit app would alert me to my miles and pace instead.  I’m new to fitbit as of today and saw in the app that it would give audible feedback for every half mile, instead of every one mile.  This is great for my odd-numbered runs and especially when I’m running in unfamiliar territory. 

I slipped my armband on, put in my earphones, started the Nike+ app and Zig, and started off.  One mile in and the fitbit app had yet to tell me anything!  I didn’t want to stop my run just to turn on an audible cue so I kept running.  No cues to my average pace and nothing telling me how far I’ve run.  I was left to do only one thing…run.

The run was going surprisingly well.  It felt good.  My pace felt good.  I knew I was running slower than I really wanted but it was necessary if I were to complete the 8 miles with few walking breaks, considering how far behind I was on training.  I kept going.  I had to pause at intersections to wait until it was safe to cross.  I didn’t stop moving.  I jogged or marched in place.  I passed side street after side street and didn’t think anything of them.  I knew where I needed to go and just kept running.  I stubbed my toe on a raised sidewalk and kept running.  Not a quarter mile later, I swallowed a gnat.  I kept running….hacking and spitting, but I kept running.  At one point, I got frustrated because it seemed I might have missed the turn that would have been close to my halfway point and would have aimed me toward my finish line.  I kept running…grumbling at how long it was taking, but I never stopped.  I had to wait a particularly long time at a major intersection.  I wasn’t bothered by it because I knew it was coming.  I knew I would have to be patient and just wait until it was safe to pass.  I kept moving and took off running when the signal allowed.  I had to run hills I had not anticipated.  Hills slow me down some but when running outside, they are inevitable.  I kept running.  Once I made to the street name on which I had started, I knew the run was nearly done.  It had not been nearly as rough as I had anticipated.  I could see the finish line.  I just needed to keep running.  I walked at one point after reaching the top of the second hill.  It was the roughest point thus far.  At the top, I could see how far I had come and little I had left to go.  I started running again.  I finished my run at my pre-determined finish line and checked the app to see how far it ended up being…7.3 miles, not 8 miles.  I fell short.

I thought about this for a moment.  I asked myself if I had truly fallen short.  I set a goal.  I planned how I would meet that goal.  I never stopped in spite of the obstacles I encountered.  Some of those obstacles were expected, some of them were not.  Some of the obstacles slowed me down.  Not one of those obstacles stopped me from reaching my goal.  My goal wasn’t so much to run a distance.  It was to complete the run.  I completed the run using the route I had planned.

While I was running, I had the realization that my runs are like so many aspects of my life.  I have goals, hopes, and dreams.  It is up to me whether I bring those to fruition.  If I want them badly enough I will do what it takes to make them a reality.  Goals are dreams with a plan.  They cannot be achieved without a plan.  No matter how difficult the path, no matter how many obstacles jump in the way, if you want it badly enough, you won’t let those keep you from moving.  You will reach those goals with an unwavering willingness to do whatever it takes.  It must start with you.  No one can do it for you.  Put pen to paper.  Write it out.  Set a begin date and an end date.   Define what must be done between the start and end.  Define actions you can do daily to meet that end.  Get started and don’t stop until you achieve that goal. 

There will always be obstacles.  There will always be things and people who will slow us down.  There will always be distractions to take our sites off our goal.  The important thing is that you don’t stop running.