Last month, I finished my 11th 3M Half Marathon. It was a beautiful day to experience the joy of reaching another finish line. Far more important, however, are the lessons learned along the way to those finisher’s medals. You never know when those lessons will make an appearance or provide you with an epiphany of sorts.
I vividly remember one day in December, a day on which I had scheduled a routine long run in preparation for this event. I awoke to a temperature of 40 degrees and rain.
I will admit that the thought of running was becoming less and less appealing by the minute. I just don’t do well running in the cold, damp weather. The weather forecast was for much better weather the next day. I crossed my fingers and pushed the long run back a day.
On that particular day in December, it was really ok to just let it go for today and see what tomorrow would bring.
The following day was, fortunately, a beautiful day for a run: 60 degrees, sunny, minimal clouds. It was as perfect a day as you can get for late December.
In times past, I would have stuck to the plan regardless of the circumstances. Discipline, right? Strength, yes? But was all of that just an attempt to validate myself as a “runner”?
Lesson duly noted.
Now, the task was to get out the door.
Inertia - “the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion, including changes to its speed and direction”.
We rarely think of inertia in the context of our daily lives. Although it was a great day to be running, I found that inertia was making its presence known.
Through the first half mile, then a mile, then a mile and a half, the struggle persisted. My mind was trying to find ways to abort the mission. It was seeking excuses. It was rationalizing. It wanted to stop.
History was on my side that day. In times past, there has been a magical moment, not one that you can predict on a watch or a mile marker on the road, when the inertia shifts slightly. Just relax and let it happen. And it did - yet again.
Lesson duly noted. Again.
One moment, you can be struggling, and the next moment, you are caught in the exquisite state of flow. It repeats throughout a long run, or a long bike, or a long swim. It is rarely planned or predictable, and oftentimes inconsistent.
Just like life, as I always like to say. Running - or any sport for that matter - provides us with a microcosm of the world as we know it.
Sometimes we struggle. We fight the inertia of our day. Sometimes we find flow. Sometimes we are in it, we push, and we fall out of it. Sometimes we can be so focused on maintaining it that we lose "it" along the way.
Sometimes we have moments of greatness. Sometimes we face great physical and/or mental challenges. All along the path, there is the task of "managing" the powers that be, be they wind, gravity, soreness, inertia … or work, family, friendships, relationships, love.
Sometimes we feel the need to “be” the person that we were, or the person that we want to be, instead of simply being “me” right now.
Running has, at times, given me the opportunity to reflect on the beauty of life - while simply putting one foot in front of the other. Over and over again.
Just like life.
Photo credits: Dave Dugdale