What can be said for people that artificially make things tough for themselves? Why would someone run outside on the icy roads in bone-chilling rain or in death-inducing heat with salt and dust baking into your sun-burned skin? Why do we run?
On Monday I had one of the more difficult runs I can remember: 6 miles easy with hill sprints, and then 2x20 second drills. The distance was doable. That's a normal run for me on a weekday. The hill sprints are awesome. I can pull my inner "Jerry Rice" out on demand. The drills at the end are refreshing. I love the looks I get from the kids walking their dogs, or the retirees looking through their bedroom windows as I do karaokes or skipping for distance. No it wasn't even the chilling freezing rain, the fact that I had a painful wind blowing into my face for a good 45 minutes of the run, or the fact that I was drenched through to my toes and fingers.
It was difficult because I began to doubt.
I began to tell myself that running faster is hard. That there is a barrier of PAIN that waits for me when I want to improve. That I can't achieve this goal that I am seeking. That I haven't trained well. I haven't eaten well. I haven't had the right mental attitude. I left my front door on Monday's run, thinking the enemy was outside; that the enemy was the world; that the enemy was the elements.
No. The enemy was me.
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I'm a practicing Roman Catholic. I pray for many reasons and in many forms and styles. But I never pray for running. I never use the tools that have gotten me this far and apply it to running. I never pray for the runners, the race organizers, the volunteers. I never pray for my wife and family because they have helped me to be a runner. I have been simply animistic to this point in time. I have simply let my body worship at the Church of running with no spiritual commentary. If I have added anything, it is a bit of intellectual flowering in collecting numbers and setting target.
It may be too late for this race on Saturday, but I vow before all of you to find a technique that is suitable for me, which will help me visualize and be totally present in my running. I've approached my running as if I was a lab rat in an experiment.
Help me out. What do you do to visualize your running? How do you spiritualize your running? What books do you read? How do you prepare for running? How do you prepare for racing?