This morning I've decided to force myself to sit down and reevaluate where I'm at with my training and my life. I've been off the radar so to speak since the Marathon in April. Mostly because I'm a creature of habit and I tend to fall into a comfortable routine in which I don't like to break.With that being said I also believe that every now and again everyone needs to pause and look back in order to move forward. So, here I am pressing the pause button...again.
Since the beginning of the year I've been drawing this blueprint. A master plan to reach my training goals, and a plan on what direction I want my life to head. During all of this I've been taking inventory with what and who is in my life. Running has become such a huge part of my life. As anyone that runs knows hitting the road always gives back more than what it takes. This is hard to explain and honestly to people that don't run it may sound like a bunch of gibberish but there is something to be said about how a run can center you and bring things into focus.
To say that running has been a struggle for me over the past several months would be an understatement. Not because it's hard to lace up (well sometimes) but because of the physical strain and mental pressure I place on myself. I'm a perfectionist and mediocrity doesn't sit very well with me. I have been working hard at getting faster so that one day I'll be able to run the streets of Boston. I've increased my mileage, done the speed work, run the hills and every time I head out is like game day. Trying to maintain my focus and keep my eye on the ultimate goal. The other day when I was out running in record temperatures something hit me as if I was running into my wall at mile 22.
Forced to run slow because of the heat. I set my mind on just one facet of the run, my form. I quickly realized that somewhere over the last few months, probably because of injuries my form had been compromised. So for 7 miles this was my focus and just like a switch being turned on I was running with a smile again and more importantly running was easy and loose. Running loose was something I had forgotten how to do. Not realizing that the pressure I've been putting on myself mentally had inadvertently forced me to run tense and hard. The last 2 miles of that run were amazing even with the temperatures close to 100. So the next several runs I kept this in mind and just took what my body gave me instead of my mind taking what my body didn't have.
The second part of this grand plan I've been building was on a personal level. I believe in balance and for someone to be truly happy a balance needs to exist. To say that I've had a balance would be a lie. If I'm being honest evaluating the past several months it would be a colossal oversight to say that the loss of my boxer Sammy hasn't been weighing on me daily. In the wake of losing her I can look back and be grateful for what has developed since. My crazy lab Hunter and I have spent the time bonding. The loss has definitely made us grow closer. Closer than I ever thought we would. Definitely a blessing in disguise. It took him some time but with his hesitation and my approval he took over Sammy's spot on the couch. A hard decision for both of us but one that I think we knew was right.
A few weeks ago, almost as if it was meant to be I adopted a puppy (another crazy lab) that needed saved from a horrible situation. My thought process was that it would be healthy for Hunter to have a friend again and some company when I wasn't home. So we welcomed Jax into our family. I think it goes without saying that it's been an adventure. Especially once Jax decided to come out of his shell and feel safe. Since then Hunter and Jax have been playing nonstop and there have been times where Hunter has given me that look that Sammy use to give saying "get this crazy dog off of me!". There have been times where I've actually called Hunter, Sammy when he has given me those looks. So I know my faithful old girl is looking down on us wagging her tail.
To some extent I believe the loss of Sammy has impacted my running. Feeling guilty heading out after work or for a 3 hour run on my day off would weigh on my conscience knowing Hunter was by himself. Now with Jax a part of the family that weight has lifted and I'm sure it will get easier as the time passes and a new normal take place.So I think it goes without saying that having a second shadow following me around the house again has been nice even if one of the shadows is tugging at my pant leg.
With all of this craziness in my life or lack of craziness depending on your standards I've also taken a hard look at the people in my life or lack thereof. Back in April I began the process of evaluating my expectations of the people around me. It's not often I get tired or fatigued (after all I run Marathons for fun) but certain people in my life have worn me down. I've come to understand that just because I have such high expectations of myself those expectations can't be applied to family and friends. Life gets in the way so having expectations often lead to disappointment. This is why I place so much value on the act of giving. Giving not in the sense of material items but the giving of time something that is more precious than anything we have. Something I think a lot have people have forgotten how to do. Even though all of this may seem negative (something I don't like to be) there has been a silver lining in the support system surrounding me.The old friends that have been pillars for me to lean on and the new friends that know that taking a minute out of their life to share a moment can mean everything. No excuses just the simple act of giving. Something we all should do more of just to be better people.
Looking back at the blueprint I've been drawing it seems like I've been focusing on hammering one nail instead of looking at the entire project. As life gets in the way and does it's best to distract me I need to remember what's important and what my goals in this life are and what I can give back. So for now I've stopped chasing and returned to my happy pace. A pace that will bring a smile to my face and hopefully as I stop to give time put a smile on the faces and hearts of the people around me.