Seems like when the universe is trying to get a message or some guidance to me, it bombards me with direction. Every blog and article I read, every podcast I listen to, every vlog I watch will be related to that which I need to pay attention. Clearly the universe knows that I don’t take subtle hints very well. It started with hints on Rich Roll’s new vlog, then suggestions on a blog post by @arunningmess, a quick tip by @dizruns, but the big guns came out when I read a Javelina Jundred race recap by Maria Simone. Gratitude has been the mission of the ammunition.
I’ve been having a hard time figuring out WHY I’m running lately. Not that I need a mission statement to run, but if I’m going to train for 50, 62, 100 miles, I think I need to at least have some idea of what my motivation is. Why? It can’t be because someone else is doing it and I don’t want to let them down. I’ll just address that head on – yes I have collaborated with Christina and Melissa to run Javelina Jundred in October and we are podcasting about it as UltraOrdinary. But that alone cannot be the reason I am run that race.
I love you.
stay with me.
My training had lost its focus. I wasn’t feeling the strong desire to get out of bed to go train. The feeling of fire and direction that I had in the past was fading. The training schedule had been ignored and I had let myself get swayed by how others train and what was working (or not working) for them. I was laser focused on training for my first marathon. I found my training plan, read it from cover to cover, did all the training exercises, made my own electrolyte drinks, ate clean, minimized my alcohol consumption, refused the candy dish at work, went to bed early on Friday night to get up early for my long run, which I painstakingly plotted out and planned. My goal was simply finishing my first marathon and I wanted to be trained and healthy to do it. And I was, and I did.
My second marathon and my first ultra had a different focus. Running had become my therapy, my time alone to sort through the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart. My time to dissect the sadness and guilt, and attempt to put together the pieces of my broken heart – like a jigsaw puzzle with key pieces missing – and find acceptance. My focus was not running for me, but running for others – for those who were sick and broken. My focus was to not quit…to not give up. I would tell myself…and Brice – I’m not going to give up. I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an asshole but I feel like Brice gave up on life. Not because he was a quitter and not meant in a negative way at all. When I was running, I wasn’t giving up for him – he couldn’t get through the hard part, so I would get through the hard parts for him. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it was my way of connecting with him. And he would tell me, “You can do it, Mom. Don’t give up.” And I didn’t.
What does all of this have to do with gratitude?
I’ve had some hard runs lately. My long runs hit a wall and I haven’t had the horsepower to push through it. I had a month of feeling super self-centered and found myself having an anxiety attack, moments of panic, not sleeping enough, drinking too much and not wanting to run or exercise, and definitely not wanting to run 100 miles in the Arizona desert. My focus has been on me, and with that came fear, doubt and disbelief. In and of myself, I can’t accomplish the things I want to accomplish.
It feels like a bit of a contradiction because on one hand I will need to completely depend on myself to get through the challenges and miles ahead of me. When I’m on the trail working through a rough patch, dark place, suckfest, etc., it’s me that has to keep moving, and remember to eat and drink and think positively and not give up. It’s me that has to set the 5:00 am alarm and not turn it off but get out of bed and get dressed and get out the door. It’s me that has to has to say ‘No thank you’ to the junk food, the processed food and the sugar. It’s me that has to go to bed early. It’s me that has to make the decision to go to the start line of a race and just move forward until I finish. It’s me that has to tell myself I am strong and determined and I will not quit. It is me that needs to choose water over wine, whole grains over white crap, fruits & veggies over meat & potatoes, rest over busyness. No one else is going to do it for me.
On the other hand, it can’t just be for me that I do it. All that I need to accomplish my goals lies within me, yet there has to be something outside myself to make it move, to make it work. If all I consider while I’m running is how I feel and what I am doing, I will fail every time. But when I step out side of myself, and take the next step for someone else, I can keep going. When I change my attitude, I change my outcome. It’s like giving and receiving. It doesn’t make sense in the natural physical realm. How is it if I give of my self, my time, or my money that it returns to me tenfold? How is it that exerting more energy through exercise gives me more energy? How is that the love you give to others never runs out? How does focusing on someone that can’t run make me a better runner?
The running that I do – it IS for me – but it is a gift. It is a blessing that I am able to put one foot in front of the other, mile after mile. The strength and endurance are a blessing, and not to be taken for granted. I’m not the fastest runner or the strongest runner. I’m not extraordinarily talented or any different than anyone else. My running is average at best. The ability to run is still a gift. We have all been given gifts. We have all been given opportunities to make the most of the conditions and circumstances we have in our lives. Some of those conditions may not seem fair and some of them down right suck. But I’m not in charge of this planet or this universe. All I know is that I have been given this day – this moment to make the most of what I have been given.
If that is the ability to run, I will run.
If that is the ability to sing, pray, write, dance, love, cook, I will do that.
And whatever I do, I will do it with joy and gratitude.
Be thankful for what you have been given. Be thankful for the sun and the summer heat. Be thankful for the wind and the rain. Be thankful for the abundance and the scarcity. Be thankful for friends and community. Be thankful for the walk as well as the run. Don’t waste the gift. Don’t waste the years,days,hours, minutes,seconds you have been given.
My legs may do the running, but it’s gratitude that will get me to the finish line.