Friday, August 11, 2006

Running Update

On a more positive note...

My running continues to go well. My latest “record” is running 17 minutes without a break. I’m pushing the schedule, since I’m up to phase VIII but have only been seriously at it for 6 weeks. It is generally not a good idea to push things, but the reason I am doing so is that I (perhaps rashly) signed up for a 5K at the end of August. My goal is simply to be able to run the entire 5K by then (I don’t care how fast).

The dangers of pushing things are: (1) you increase the risk of injury; and (2) you increase the risk of burnout.

Regarding the former, I’m simply trying to monitor my physical sensations very carefully.

Regarding the latter: I think I’m starting to approach the danger of burnout, because it’s all starting to feel very hard, and I’m almost feeling discouraged. I try to put it in perspective (I’m doing great! It just feels hard because I’m pushing myself a bit much, but after the 5K I can taper back again!) But it’s still hard.

In fact, I have a new theory: if you generally hold yourself back just a little, you keep up your enthusiasm and drive. This requires discipline and restraint. And I think this applies not just to running, but to all major endeavors in life.

I do tend to push myself hard. And I get myself into situations that encourage me to push myself hard (like signing up for a 5K but giving myself a little less time than I really need to prepare for it).

But I should also point out how much our culture encourages us to push hard. And I have internalized this cultural message too well. I’m starting to suspect that the truly successful people know how to strike the right balance. The rest of us just assume that they worked agonizingly hard to get where they are. Seeing their success, we don’t look too carefully at the habits that led to this success. Such scrutiny seems unnecessary, because success speaks for itself. But maybe if we did look more closely, we'd see that the real secret to long-term success is keeping the spirit of joy alive.

So, after this 5K (if I survive it), I will be more intentional about cultivating discipline, restraint, and joy, and will take more care not to get myself into situations that demand too much from me, if I can help it. Ok, now that I think about it, I should start right now to get serious about cultivating the discipline of restraint!

Meanwhile, I still am thrilled to be making progress! Even if I’m not feeling particularly sleek or fast yet, it feels very right to have reclaimed my runner identity. I really do want to keep this permanently in my life now!

No comments:

Post a Comment