I have been reading 'Born To Run', a book that I recommend everyone reads, and it has been shedding some interesting light on the process of running. One of the principles that really sticks out in my mind is that the best ultra runners in the world mentally approach running differently than weekend warriors. For the ultra runners, it's about being in the moment during the process and not focusing so much on the end. It's about who they become while running the race rather than who they become once they cross the finish line.
I tried to apply this principle to my run last night and it worked brilliantly. I didn't set a pre-determined goal distance and time, I set the goal of thoroughly enjoying the wind against my cheeks, the pitter patter of my feet through the slushy snow and the increase of intensity in my breath as I ascended some epic hills.
I had some initial resistance at the beginning of my run because I am usually driven by the specific measurables. I want to run X amount of km's in X amount of time. Having the goal to focus on and to use as ammunition in pushing myself is usually what turns my crank. But yesterday, I committed to just being present and enjoying each step.
After a while (I don't know how far and I don't know for how long because I didn't press start on my Garmin - it was maybe 8km's in about 40 minutes), I did a body scan and realized that everything was feeling AMAZING! The best part, I was smiling from ear to ear. At that point, I felt like I could run forever.
I am the type of person who gets fixated on a goal and has the tendency to loose perspective. When I want something badly, I tend to narrow my focus, put my head down and grind through it until I figure out a way to get it done. This has benefitted me in the past and is a great technique for short term focus, but it can be pretty exhausting as well. I am starting to realize that it's equally important for me to take a step back and look at the big picture. I need to enjoy the process of life more rather than be obsessed with checking off tasks on the never ending list of things to do.
It's OK to lace up and to go for a run just because you feel like going for a run. You don't always have to be looking to improve. Finding the energy to conquer your previous time isn't accessible every single day and it's important to recognize the times in your life when you need to take that step back. Because at the end of the day, it isn't just about crossing the finish line, it's about who you become along the way…