Saturday, March 5, 2016

Zen and the Art of Running on Empty

Let me start at the ending. Several months ago, I set a goal for myself to run a marathon in under four hours. Last weekend, I crossed the line in 4 hours and 52 seconds. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong, I know that my time is nothing to be ashamed of, I did pretty well; however those 52 seconds have been taunting me. I keep going over the four hours I spent running around Birmingham thinking of where I could have shaved off the extra time. I stopped to use the port-a-potty. I dropped my iPod at one point. There was that moment during mile 20 that I stopped to stretch my calf muscles. Lots of moments, lots of excuses.

The thing is, this past week as I have been wasting countless seconds worrying about my missing a goal, and indeed I have completely missed the point the past couple of days looking only at the finishing time instead of this amazing experience I have had training for the marathon. Running has been how I have coped with my anxiety, my stress, my writer's block, and my lack of desire to read or do pretty much anything else.

I ran, and I thought.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is credited with saying, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." As a marathon runner, I have to agree with that statement.

Years ago, I had given up running after completing a lackluster college running. I never was able to run the way I ran in high school. I essentially forgot why I fell in love with running in the first place. Always focused on times, I never could really enjoy the journey. I didn't know how to breathe.

However, after reading this book Zen and the Art of Running, I came to peace with running for the love of running. I began to use running to clear my mind, find peace in my heart, and work through my worries. I finally found a way to breathe again.

A photo posted by Jenny (@booksbabiesandbows) on

For me, running is healing and a means to finding balance. When there is pain in other aspects of my life, running eases that pain. And when running causes pain, I rely on Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt to ease the pain from running.

The past couple of months, I have had writer's block. Or, maybe it is just a lack of desire to write. Whatever you might call it, it is this feeling where you feel incapable of being creative. I lost myself.

I had no balance.

However, I found a "New Balance" by taking a step outside.

A photo posted by Jenny (@booksbabiesandbows) on

Yes, there were literal and figurative mountains to climb. However, the act of climbing gave me the confidence that I needed to face the challenges of each day.

A photo posted by Jenny (@booksbabiesandbows) on

There is something about getting down and dirty. After all, don't they say that every flower must grow through dirt? 

My marathon was really the celebration of my many hours of training, where I learned to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the finish. Knowing I am able to keep moving forward through pain empowers me. And it is also pretty amazing when your child tells you that you are strong.

1 comment:

  1. That 54 seconds. I would guess that if you didn't take that time to stretch etc. you wouldn't have made it at all. Coming that close to your goal means you set it well. If you'd beaten it, then maybe it was too easy a goal! (Said the pot calling the kettle black.) Fractions of a second only count in the Olympics.


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