Friday, June 20, 2014

Tricks I Play On Myself When I Run (and When I Live)

1. Think small.  

Sometimes I start out running and the plan of 5 miles feels far too big. At 1/2 Mile, I think "There's no way I can get through five miles today. No way. Let's just walk now."  And that's when I think, "Don't worry about 5 miles. Worry about the next half-mile.  That's all you have to do. Half a mile."  I can run half a mile... and I don't worry about the rest just then.  I can worry about the rest later.  But the first challenge is just that half mile.

Living my life is similar.  Some things seem really big to get through and I want to just throw in the towel. So I think small.  I don't have to get through a week or a month or a year. I just have to get through today.  Or sometimes even just this hour.

2. If they can do it, you can do it.

This is a trick that plays on my own stubbornness and competitiveness. I have friends who run faster and farther. And when I want to throw in the towel and walk away, I think, "They can do it. There is no reason that you can't, too." Part of that is probably an unhealthy comparing... but part of it is the realization that the only thing standing in my way of getting to that level is time, determination, and my own head. I'm healthy, I'm getting stronger every day... And while I don't expect myself to perform at the level now, I know that I could in time if I put in the work now. There is no reason that I can't do it, too.

And it's the same for qualities I'd like to emulate... Nothing is really standing in way of being like the people I'd like to be like... except me. My own selfishness, anger, etc... But if I'm willing to change my heart, if I'm willing to learn to let things not-bother me as much...  those qualities are in my grasp.  It's not an issue of can't, but won't.

3. When you get to the top, you can choose to rest.

This is usually something I tell myself when I'm about 80% o the way up a hill.  I want to quit.  It's hard. I'm out of breath and my legs are burning. At this point, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to die. But, telling myself that I can quit when I get to the top of the hill encourages me to keep going just a little further, and gives me the enticement of rest to get me the rest of the way.  And most of the time?  Once I get to the top and I'm out of the perceived hell of the incline, once I get a taste of comparative rest of the crest or a downhill, I don't need to rest.  My mind and my body realign and I realize that I could go a little further.

My life is the same way. Sometimes the things we walk through seem so hard, and we want nothing else but a respite, a break from the pressure. And so I tell myself that I can have one... as soon as I get through this. Sometimes I take one -- I believe in taking care of yourself so that you can healthily give out to others. But sometimes... when I get through the problem -- sometimes I find that I don't need the break. Sometimes I find that I'm okay and that the obstacle, in the end, wasn't as awful as it seemed in the middle.

4. You will be so proud when you are done.

Running is hard. I think that, physically, it's one of the hardest things I've ever done. And it keeps being hard because I keep upping the ante of what I expect from myself.  A year ago, hard was running for 10 minutes.  Now, hard is running for an hour.  It's always tough. But that moment when I finish?  That moment when I look behind me at what I just accomplished? That is a beautiful moment that is full of such pride in hard work -- It's worth it.  That moment, that feeling... it's worth it.

And getting through my life's trials has the same pride. Sometimes getting to the other side has come through so many tears, through so many setbacks, and so many starting-overs. It has come with heartache and confusion and so many failures --  that to get to the other side is amazing. The other side is reached with relief and gratitude, and, oh yes, pride.

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