It's been a tough couple of weeks. As I followed the Facebook posts and tweets of friends preparing to run full and half marathons last Sunday, I found myself suffering from a nasty case of "marathon envy". By Saturday afternoon, I felt nervous and excited for them and downright sorry for myself. Never mind that I hadn't registered. Never mind that I hadn't trained. Never mind that I'd made a deliberate choice to "run less" this year, my inner child was yelling that it was totally unfair that I wasn't running a marathon too. (sigh).
All of which got me thinking about the importance of goals in my life. The truth is I need them - lots of them - just to get through an average day. I need goals to get me to the office on time in the morning, goals to keep myself from eating unhealthy snacks in the afternoon, goals to get me to bed at a reasonable hour.
And then there are work-related goals. Usually, they're set by other people but they're often arbitrary deadlines I set for myself to be sure I accomplish a reasonable amount of work each day. Other people may be able to beaver away taking pleasure in the process but not me. I need goals - real or imagined - to motivate me.
All of which likely explains why my running has been so blah lately. I haven't really had a challenging goal since Cabot Trail Relay and, as a consequence, haven't felt motivated to train well or consistently. And, unfortunately, it shows - in my waistline, in my pace and, most of all, in my attitude.
I was complaining to Husband the other day about how little I enjoy running these days, how my legs feel heavy and I tire more quickly than I used to. "I don't understand why I feel this way," I whined. "Do you suppose I'm sick? Or that maybe my hormones are acting up? Or is it because the summer was so busy and stressful?" His matter of fact response? "Uhm...I think maybe it's because you haven't been training all that much, Treas."
Ouch. He was right of course. There's nothing "wrong" with me. It isn't that I'm sick, or menopausal, or stressed. It's that I haven't been training consistently, and the only way to fix that is to get back into running more regularly, eating right, drinking less, and sleeping more. There's no magic bullet or quick fix. To regain strength, flexibility and endurance, I simply have to do the work.
All of which was on my mind when I headed out the door for my long run last Sunday. It was a glorious fall day - mild, dry and sunny. I ran 12k thinking about what running meant to me and how I clearly needed new goals if I was going to get back into shape. I was also thinking about whether I wanted to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. (For those who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it's a 30 day writing challenge in which participants attempt to write the a 50,000 word first draft of a novel. I "won" the challenge the past two years, but have yet to edit either of the draft novels I produced.)
Running beside the river, drinking in the spectacular autumn colours (see my last post for photos I took later that day), it occurred to me that I could kick-start both my running and my writing by doubling up on my goals - write an average of 1333 words and run or walk or at least 5k every day in November.
I know. It sounds ridiculous. Given that I'm currently struggling to run 4 days per week, committing to 7 is ambitious, to say the least - but it should help that I can walk instead of run 2-3 days per week and, presumably, as the month goes on I'll be in better shape so the runs will feel less difficult. Added to which, since my plan for NaNoWriMo is to write a series of interrelated short stories, each of which has running as a central theme, a daily run/walk will help fuel my imagination. In any case, the notion of spending the month of November passionately pursuing two of my favourite activities is an appealing one so, with Husband's blessing, I'm going to give it a try.
Of course, taking on two relatively ambitious goals may be a recipe for disaster but, since this is the year I promised myself I'd "plunge boldly into life", the time is right. Even if I don't succeed, I'll get more exercise than I have in awhile and maybe finish a few stories.
To close, a favourite quote on running from John Stanton:
"The day will come when you cannot run...today is not that day...lace them up."And, on writing, from Amy Tan:
Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.Happy running and writing, friends. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.