The demons inside my head?
This morning I was reading an article by John Bingham, entitled, “The Importance of a Running Community”. He was talking about the camaraderie that takes place when a group of runners get together for a run. Many of them come from different backgrounds and neighborhoods. Many run at different times, and different paces. The nice thing is that when runners get together, it’s fun. Plain and simple. Everyone is there for one purpose, to run. One foot in front of the other. Some fast, some slow, or “Gazelles” or “Penguins” as Mr. Bingham called them. There is a lot to be said for the companionship of a running group.
I remember when I ran in high school, how focused I was on the task at hand. I was there to run a race and compete with my teammates. We cheered for each other’s wins and hugged for losses. Focusing was key! Back then my mind didn’t wander like it does today. Yes, I am now 51, a lot older, and wiser, (had to put that in there) and I’ve been through my share of troubles like everyone else. My short term memory isn’t the best and I often struggle to retain and remember things. Even with all those shortcomings, I can run. I can put one foot in front of the other and move along. I would call myself more of a Penguin, rather than a Gazelle at this point in my running. I am not out there on the roads to win a race, I am in this just for me. I run to challenge myself, and to finish the race. Not place first, second or third, just to finish. If I set a PR (personal record) then that’s an added plus!
I chose to name this post “The demons inside my head” only because I am a solitary runner. I run alone, all the time. I live in a neighborhood where no one else runs, and because of my work schedule I prefer to run after work, not in the morning. The demons I am referring to are the ones in my mind that constantly battle with my will while I am running. “You’re tired, You need to walk, You need a break, You’re breathing too hard”.. they go on and on. They are constantly whispering and challenging me to give up on the task at hand.
I have written before about how I let distractions get to my running. I see that as a good and bad thing at the same time. This past year I have come to appreciate how short life really is, and how we often take it for granted. I decided that I was going to stop and “Smell the Roses” as often as I can. Beautiful flowers, a bright blue sky, animals, butterflies, all these things catch my eye when I run. Sometimes I keep right on running past, and other times I stop and take a picture. Often though, I am trying to concentrate on running a certain pace, or trying to be careful of my gait, and my mind starts wandering. I constantly have to bring myself back and focus on what I am trying to accomplish.
These thoughts will sometimes subside if I find myself in a “groove”. In the past I have mentioned many times that my shoes certainly help to feed that. When you don’t have to worry about feet or legs that hurt, you can let yourself flow along gracefully. Sometimes I can compare the endorphin high to flying… you lose a sense of time and space and just narrow your focus into the path or road ahead of you. The result is a brilliant, eye awakening, totally fulfilling run. The company Mizuno calls this “Mezamashii”, and it has become one of my favorite terms.
This will be my first year taking part in races. I have signed up for 16 total, with the last one being the Maine Half Marathon on Oct. 6th. I would love to try and do a Half before then, but I have my schedule all planned out for the year already. I am taking my time and am not going to rush through any of these. I want to enjoy every moment that I can. I want to highfive the kids along the course. I want to do a thumbs up when people tell me “Good job” or “you can do this”. I am going to savor every step.
How do you deal with these issues of your head not being in sync with your body when running? What is your strategy? I’d love to hear!