I quit a training run last weekend.
I had 14 miles planned. I was dressed perfectly for the temps, had my nutrition with me, had the route picked out, and I was ready. But something didn’t feel right.
That morning when I woke up I was in the mood to do some yoga and lift weights. There was just something about that combination that sounded really good to me. Like cozy soft blanket and a hot caramel apple cider kind of good. Soul soothing good. Giving my body what it’s asking for kind of good.
But I had a 14 miler scheduled. I told myself that after doing the run, finishing my laundry, grocery shopping and walking the dog, then I could do yoga and lift if I still had the energy.
I was two miles into the run when I finally started to realize how ridiculous my last statement was. Why did I have to do all these other things before I did what I truly wanted? Am I really this much of a slave to my to-do list? Did I really have to do all that stuff today?
Then I started thinking about a comment I made to my friend Christine a few weeks ago when we were running together. We were talking about races and training plans (like all running friends seem to talk about for most of their shared miles), and I said ‘I don’t even really like racing, I just like the journey to get there.’
Do any of you have those moments where something that is so true falls out of your mouth and totally surprises you? I surprised myself by how naturally I said that, and yet it is something I haven’t really given much thought to before.
I always know what my next race is going to be. At dinner, after my 50 miler back in September I was already talking with Spencer about what I would do next. My trail shoes hadn’t even dried out from the race yet and I was already seeking my next finish line.
My head was deep in thought about this during my 14-mile run. I was starting to see, for the first time ever, that I was training for this spring marathon out of habit, rather than really wanting to do it. And yet I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to lift weights, do yoga, read a book, and drink a hot caramel apple cider.
Then I stopped. I stopped in my tracks and looked at the Platte River Trail in front of me, and decided, I’m not going to finish this run. And I turned around.
Now, it’s strange to say that I’m very proud of a run that I didn’t finish. But I am. I’m proud of it because I never do that. If it’s on my list and I tell myself that I’m going to do it, I do it. And I don’t just do the thing I said I would do, I do it like a mother fucker.
I don’t just grocery shop, I have an elaborate list that is written out in order of where to find it in the store to make it the most efficient grocery shopping experience ever.
I don’t just walk the dog, I maximize my time by listening to a podcast or even listening to a walking meditation so I get even more out of it.
And if I have a run scheduled the only possible thing that will keep me from doing it is if I have a fever, which almost never happens.
Come hell or high water, I do what I tell myself I will do.
Now, I know that is a good thing. I like that I am a person that can make shit happen. I really do.
But what I don’t like is that it doesn’t allow for much grace, or joy, or flexibility. I set a goal this year to do a spontaneous weekend road trip.
Anyone else see the humor in that? And no, there was no planned ‘spontaneous’ trip.
I felt a curious happiness as I ran back to my car. My legs felt lighter, and my mind meandered to all the things that I could do that day, just because I felt like it.
I could go to a matinee movie! I could do some yoga! I could take a nap! The world suddenly felt like my oyster of opportunity and happiness, all because I was finally giving myself permission to do exactly what I wanted!
So I did just that. I did yoga. I went to the gym and lifted weights. And then I went to the coffee shop to drink a hot caramel apple cider while reading my new favorite book in a cozy leather chair.
When I sat down with my hot cup of deliciousness and Girl Wash Your Face the sun was out. Next thing I know, it’s dark out, I’ve read half the book, and I felt completely at peace. The day had gone from being run according to the almighty to-do list, to one that was instead driven by what I felt like doing in the moment.
I can think of two main reasons why I am always in checklist crossing off mode.
1 – It’s a habit. It’s what I’ve always done without thinking twice.
And 2 – It was a way to accomplish and achieve things, which was how I felt I earned love and respect of other people.
It’s hard for me to admit #2. It really is. But it’s true. I’ve liked standing out because I’m such an action taker – I get shit done. But sometimes these accomplishments can feel empty because I’m doing them for the wrong reasons.
I had a helluva reason for training for and running my 50 miler this fall. I really wanted to show myself, and anyone else who will listen that you can be a kidney donor and an athlete. Mission accomplished.
I didn’t have a strong ‘why’ for the Eugene Marathon this spring. It just seemed like the next logical step to get better and faster.
And that is how I’ve operated my entire life. Most of the time I am rushing to get through things. Mark as much off my list as possible. Do a double check of the things I do that impact other people, but otherwise, it’s cruising forward as fast as possible.
And yet now as I’m sitting here with myself, if I’m being really honest, I don’t want to keep doing that. For now. I’m a big believer that if we are quiet enough, we have an inner voice that helps us know what direction to take. And I’m hearing loud and clear that it’s time to slow the hell down and meander for a while.
I’ve told a few friends about this, and they are all pretty shocked by it. It has been fun to hear people ask me ‘so, are all your races scheduled for 2019?’ and I just say ‘nope’ and smile. For now.
I know I will get back to training and racing and planning and stretching myself again, but right now it feels great to allow myself a reset. Especially this time of year when people can be full throttle getting after it. My hope is that after a while of hibernation, reading, meandering and enjoying the quiet, it will be clearer as to what really deserves my attention and energy, and what has just been a habit over the years.