Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Zen and the Art of Running

Since I began running, I’ve learned a lot…about patience.

(But isn’t the point of running to get someplace fast?)

I’m not a natural athlete, and hadn’t run more than a few steps at a time since college. So when I took it up again two decades later, I tried to jump right in and be strong and fast, immediately.

That didn’t work out so well.

After a couple of mildly strained knees, I learned my lesson, or so I thought. And I slowly began to build up distance, and to a lesser amount, speed. And when I got to a certain point in my fitness, I tried to push it again. After all, I was over the beginner’s hump and was strong enough to handle it now, right?

Um, no.

My strained hip told me to back off again. At this point, I was a year into my running, and had to go back almost to where I started.

How humiliating.

But I did it, let myself heal up, and got to where I could train again. And I slowly eased into distance and speed again. Which was great, until my body started to respond to the training. Which meant I could do more…

…and injured my hamstring.

You seeing a pattern here? Good. Sad to say, it took me a year and a half to identify it.

Now, I think I have it. My hamstring has healed. I successfully (and slowly) ran a half marathon last month and felt great. I have two more races scheduled in the next three months. Life is good.

This time around, I’m keeping the speed work in check. It’s still difficult. I feel good and I’m ready to let loose. But I made it this far without hurting myself again, so I must be doing something right. I want to get faster, and want to someday finish a race mid-pack instead of in the back. And it will happen, someday. But for now, finishing injury free is enough.

I never thought it would take this long, but my journey from zero to marathon is going to take at least three years. If I had known that when I started running, I might not have kept going. But I’m glad I did. It was totally worth it.

What I’ve learned about patience from running has spilled over into other areas of my life. Everything… every task… every undertaking has its own pace. You have to respect that pace. It will happen in good time. In the meantime, enjoy the ride!

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