Last week, we had a rare winter week with four days of temperatures in the mid-40’s. The week before and this week were more normal for this winter – hovering somewhere between 4 and 30 degrees. When you have had weeks upon weeks of cold, windy, gray weather (combined with being stuck in the house with 2 hyper children for repeated snow days), 45 degrees feels like a heat wave. Add in some sun, and you might just close your eyes and imagine that Spring has arrived.
So last week, I found myself in such a situation. Running shoes pounding the pavement, sun on my face, a good beat in my ears, and I was in heaven. I managed to repeat this process twice during the 4 days, setting a new personal time in the process.
Life is challenging sometimes. There are things you want to do and things you want to accomplish, and frequently what you have to do gets in the way. You’re dying to write down that new story in your head. You’re almost done with a major revision and you just need a few more hours. You want to get your novel out to agents, and you need time to get the synopsis right.
So I’m trying out a new mantra. Do your best with what you have. This could apply to time, money, weather, or effort. Was it the perfect running weather last week? No – it was still a little icy and I’d rather run in shorts. But it was so much better than it could have been in the middle of the winter, I enjoyed every minute of it. Did I have time to completely finish my synopsis earlier this week? No – other deadlines took most of my time, but I did squeeze out an hour to dictate the story. And any day where I can write is so much better than working a 12 hour day in a corporate office.
So rather than feeling inadequate, or self-critical, or disappointed, I choose to make the most of what lies before me. Don’t get me wrong – some days I just end up mad at myself for what is left undone. But for this one moment, I choose to be content. And look forward to the day when I can again feel the pavement beneath my feet and the sun on my face.
Almost 2 weeks ago I ran in my first 5K race on Mother’s Day. It was a great experience, running with almost 1300 other women. There were families all along the race route with signs, cow bells, and lots of cheers. All of the smiling faces spurred me on. On one particular hill, a child held up a sign that said, “This hill is no match for my mom.” Even though the sign was not made specifically for me, it still motivated me not to chicken out as I strained up the hill. If their mom could do it, so could I!
I started running as an attempt to find an exercise that I liked. I really don’t like going to the gym – I find it boring and I don’t see any physical results after going repeatedly. I’m more of a sports gal – swimming, skiing, softball. However, since I have two young children, it’s hard to commit to a league or any regular schedule. So running has provided me with flexibility (if the kids were up too much during the night, I’ll try again to run the next morning), an exercise where I see the physical results, and many other unexpected benefits.
I’ve posted on my experiences with running before. I feel amazing mental clarity during and after running. Whatever chemicals are released in your system when running (adrenaline?) give me a real rush. And once I saw the finish line at my first race, I did what I never thought I would do. I sprinted. I passed four women in my mad dash for the finish line. I made sure my stride came down right on that timing mat (just in case, you know?). And I felt GREAT.
Going across that finish line gave me such a rush, I was replaying the last minute of the race over and over in my mind for days.
So what did I learn from this experience?
- Give yourself an aggressive goal and stick with it. Signing up for the 5K made me challenge myself in my weekly running. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself!
- Be reasonable and forgiving with yourself. Did I run the whole 5K? No. I walked about 3/10ths of a mile on some tough hills and to catch my breath. But that was okay. I finished my first race at 2-1/2 minutes under my best time. Yahoo!
- Take the high of each achievement (big or small), and use to to push on to the next goal. Now I’m pushing myself to see if I can run the whole 3.1 miles without stopping by the end of June. If I can, I’m going to sign up for a local 8K at the beginning of July.
- If you don’t meet your goal, try again. I wanted to be done writing the first draft of a new novel by Christmas. Life intervened. But I kept pushing at it, and I’m thrilled that I finished it a few weeks ago. Now I’m revising my first novel, which I’m sure will take a lot longer than I want it to.
So best wishes to each of you as you seek clarity, decide what’s important to you, and determine where you want to be.