Saturday, November 29, 2014

Running Lessons: Attitude is everything

Last evening, as I was walking home from the bus stop, I was reminded of the importance of attitude.

It was a miserable night - dark, rainy, and cold - and I'd just avoided being struck in a crosswalk by an inattentive driver. The wind was blowing so hard, I kept one hand firmly on my hood to hold it in place. As I hiked morosely up the hill towards home, my clothes and boots were soaked through and my mood was bleaker than the weather.

That's when it happened. From down the street, a child's laughter rang out and I looked up to see a small boy - perhaps 5 or 6 - coming towards me, arms outstretched, face upturned to catch the full force of the rain. He was skipping - no, dancing - down the street, savouring the excitement of the storm and chattering cheerfully to his mother, who walked beside him.

How, I thought to myself, could anyone be so happy on such an awful night?

How indeed?

I've not posted anything in awhile because, to be honest, I'm struggling to stay positive these days. Things aren't going well for Husband's sister so he was in Ottawa the past two weeks. Work is challenging. I feel as if I'm fighting a virus. The cats are squabbling constantly. By all accounts, it seems we are on the brink of a new Cold War. Bombings, killings, and injustices of all kinds dominate the news.

And, on top of all that, I gave up on both the goals I set for this month - to run 100 miles and write 50,000 words - soon after Husband left for Ottawa.  I just didn't have the heart or the energy to pursue them with so much else going on. 

The writing goal was the easier to give up. I knew when I started NaNoWriMo that all I really wanted was to write a single short story that I liked. I managed to draft three - including one I hope is worth revising - so I was content to let the challenge go for this year.

It was much harder to give up on the running goal. As recently as a few days ago, I was still trying to work out how to squeeze 40 kms into 5 days - arithmetically possible, but foolhardy given how tired and stressed I already was. Pushing myself to run so much in so short a time would only have made things worse.

When I stopped to think about it why giving up on the running goal was so difficult, I realized it was because I don't think of myself as "fit" unless I can run 16-20 kms with relative ease and, since I haven't done any serious training since June, that's no longer the case. In fact, a slow 13k to Shubie Park and back was the most I could manage last weekend.

And here's where attitude comes in. I could be frustrated and discouraged by the fact that I'm in such relatively poor shape. Alternatively, I could be grateful that I'm still able to run (when many others can't) and either get more serious about training or adjust my definition of what it means to be fit. My attitude towards both the rain and my current degree of fitness is entirely up to me.

I suspect I may not be done with running long distances just yet. A few weeks ago, I watched an amazing video that inspired me to think about what more I might want to accomplish in my running career. After all, there's no reason to think I can't get stronger and faster if I decide that's what I want to do. The question is do I?

Happy running and writing, friends.

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