May I Have a Word?

Posted on November 1, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Thoreau

It’s noon on a Monday and I’m standing in my kitchen wearing the same t-shirt I slept in (one of the perks of working from home).  I’ve just hung up the phone with Carrie and my head hangs in shame. I’ve been listening to myself explain to her that I can’t seem to find the motivation to run.  I can’t do it. It’s just too hard.

It’s been 5 weeks since I’ve run.  Carrie and I are only weeks out from the San Antonio Rock n Roll half marathon, her first. I promised I would run it with her, train for it with her, because your first half is a big deal.  Every half is a big deal.  But smack dab in the middle of a 10-mile run, I landed wrong on my foot.  I tried to go on a little farther, but couldn’t. Carrie walked the 5 miles back to the car with me while I hobbled along feeling terrible about ruining her run.  She’s done awesome with her training since then. I’ve done none.

I think about my mom. Her words ring in my head:  “Because I said I would.”  This was her reply to me in junior high when I asked why she was going to do something she was clearly too overwhelmed to do.  Because she said she would.  Because your word is that significant. It’s what you are.

Although it’s noon on Monday and I’ve never run at noon, I lace up my shoes and go.  I run 4 miles.  Just like that.  On Wednesday, I run 6.  Friday, 8. This week, a repeat, with a 10-miler on Friday. I am astonished I can pick up almost where I left off.  Bodies are amazing.  Minds more so.  I am especially astonished at what I’ve talked myself out of. I wonder how many of those weeks spent telling myself that I can’t do it, it’s just too hard, were to protect something other than my foot.

So now I give my word to myself:  It’s not too hard. I can do it after all.

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When Running Isn’t Enough

Posted on September 14, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Running is the only thing I have to look forward to right now.

That’s what a friend of mine told me over coffee this week.

If I can make it out the door, she said, and run the 3 or 5 or 7 miles on my plan, I know I can do anything.  It gives me strength.  Purpose.

I nodded intently over the heart-shaped foam skimming the top of my cappuccino.  Yes, I reassured her, I understand.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been there. If I can just get out of bed and lace up my shoes.  If I can only make it to that Stop sign.  At least I will know that I can set a goal and reach it.  I’ll know that if I can do this, I can do anything.

It’s that feeling of accomplishment and strength that keeps many runners motivated.  Reaching the point of self-motivation—the muscle memory (body and brain) of the calm and happiness that lies on the sweaty and alert side of the run—takes time to cultivate.  Even though I’ve been there for a number of years, I still have those stretches of life where I need motivation from without.  I need someone else’s words to help me find my strength and purpose.

Often, for me, that person is Henry Thoreau.  I won’t go into all the reasons why; this isn’t a blog on literature or botany or limnology or natural history.  It’s a blog on running.  And more.  But I thought I’d share with you a couple of Thoreau’s quotes that have helped move me when running wasn’t enough.

 

Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.   Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. (“The Dispersion of Seeds,” Faith in a Seed)


 

Jan. 5. P. M. A man receives only what he is ready to receive, whether physically or intellectually or morally, as animals conceive at certain seasons their kind only. We hear and apprehend only what we already half know. If there is something which does not concern me, which is out of my line, which by experience or by genius my attention is not drawn to, however novel and remarkable it may be, if it is spoken, we hear it not, if it is written, we read it not, or if we read it, it does not detain us. Every man thus tracks himself through life, in all his hearing and reading and observation and traveling. His observations make a chain. The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest which he has observed, he does not observe. By and by we may be ready to receive what we cannot receive now.  (Journal 13, December 1859 – July 1860)

 

Strange passages to find comfort in, I know.  Nevertheless, I do.  Are there certain authors or quotes that get you motivated?

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