My dear RP and I were running this morning amongst freezing cold and icy trails and had a wonderful time of conversation. She is often the ray of sunshine to my self deprecation when it comes to our long runs. We were both suffering from lack of sleep and being pretty hard on ourselves. As we traipsed up and down the trails of the Patapsco trail system and into Lake Elkhorn, our conversation led itself into a discussion about our motivation for running. Why are we choosing our schedule? Why are we so unforgiving of ourselves when we don’t run fast enough or if we feel tired? Are we running for ourselves (or even better, to glorify God) or are we running to compete against a demon (either in human form or some hidden feeling)?
We are not land speed breakers, but we hold our own. We are not skinny or sinewy but we can run 26.2 miles and handle various other physical tasks with fluency. But we are in a place in our lives where we feel as though we have to do it all “right now”. Family, career, running feats, triathlon feats, social service work, leadership roles etc. etc. etc. What will happen if we don’t make it all happen now? What will actually happen now?
For me, I have already seen the negative effects to trying to do to much in my running life. I have ended up injured, tired, and completely unmotivated to run. It is only now that, through a balance of running and other things, that I am enjoying running in a way that I had forgotten.
We must be willing to give ourselves permission to have a bad run, to not run a spring race, or to sleep in on any given Saturday at 7am. We must be gentle with our own bodies and souls so that we may endure the excessive pounding we put on our bodies when we do hit the road or the deal handed out to our soul when we slow down.
I envy those who can run, bike, or exercise without mental connection. Those who use this physical act to disconnect rather than to connect inward. I am so proud of running and how it has changed many parts of me, but at the end of the day I am still me. Hard on myself, competitive with others, and then again, harder on myself without regard to what life has given me on any given day. Often when dealing with myself, I think I feel that I must be infallible while I grant those around me concession for just about anything
I have made these big lofty race goals for 2008 and I hope to still go through with all of them, but if my motivation puts more hurt on my body, physically or emotionally, will this excessive work be worth it?
My motivation today? Reconnecting with a dear friend and running on trails that I haven’t been on in quite some time. The result: An ankle workout over ice for 10 miles. A chance to provide comfort and guidance to a friend who puts up with all of my poo on a regular basis.
My motivation tomorrow? Well that is for tomorrow