Saturday, June 15, 2013

what commitment means

Commitment is one of those words we throw around as being important but maybe don’t ponder too terribly much on a daily basis. While this blog isn’t going to be about the most important types of commitment—relational—I think I have learned more than I knew about my own commitment as a runner in the past month-plus.

Commitment means doing what you said you would do even if you don’t feel like doing it. It is a setting of your heart and mind to follow through without question. The idea is that before you enter into something you use your heart and mind and evaluate what it is and if you want to do it.

With running, there was no ceremony like a wedding or a vow to be a nun, nothing quite so dramatic. But after I began, I decided I wanted to accomplish something. On January 1, I essentially made two commitments: to run a half marathon and to run 500 miles in the calendar year. Both became the focus of my free time. And honestly, neither was too hard for the first few months. 500 miles is an average of 1.36 miles per day. The truth is, I will hit 500 miles before the half year mark is over, and while I have not entered it in the calendar yet, I will likely go for 1000 this year. Although I had a cold winter, I had excellent runs. I learned to run again on asphalt trails surrounded by trees and lakes. I was utterly spoiled (and so is everyone within 30 minutes of Leawood or Overland Park, Kansas, by the way). There were days it was hard to go—like when we had two blizzards in a row and the roads were barely drivable. But overall, outside of being colder than I have ever been, it was easy. I had great training runs for my half and did not follow the plan exactly since I was ahead, but I made sure I did the long runs and had the mileage you basically need each week for a good half—20 miles. So my unwritten commitment became 20 miles a week.

And then I got to Texas. Oh, Texas. My beloved home? My promised land? Alas!

Oh, Texas, no longer my Texas, thou art HOT. Not just hot, but humid, the kind where you feel like you walked into a sauna. Even the locals say it’s bad, but for a person who struggles with heat anyway, and one with breathing issues while running—and one who hates running first thing in the morning I might add, Texas has challenged everything I think about running.

But I won.

In Texas I have run when the heat index was 100. I have run trail runs and gotten trapped in weeds so it looked like wire was around my ankles. I have been stuck in the mud, tripped over rocks, poured more water over me than down my throat. And gotten sick to the point I had to fight very hard NOT to throw up right there. I have experienced heat exhaustion (literally, I mean). I have cried after runs because the FUN isn’t there as much. But then I would have a good run and it would all come back, or I would look at my splits and see a fast time, or I would look at my mileage and realize what I came here to write about today:

I made it.

I have run 5-6 days a week and met every mileage goal I had. I got a break after the half in that I rested and only had to do 15. We got a weather break last week and I did two longer runs in one week which gave me a break this week, but today I had to finish up an average of the last two weeks to 40. Thanks to my rotten math skills, I messed up and ended up at 40.1.
I’m typing this still feeling a bit sick from today sauna run. (I remain baffled by the Hot Yoga phenomena, by the way). But I did it.

There is no feeling in the world like knowing you worked your booty off and won. How easy it would have been to quit. Who would have blamed me if I said I was just working out at the gym and taking swim class for a couple weeks? I did that—and I ran too. And you know why, don’t you?

Runners run.

Running really is a commitment because it’s a mental sport. What I have learned in my time in one of the more uncomfortable parts of Texas is that I am committed to my sport. I care more about fulfilling my goals than I do my discomfort. Ultimately, that lesson—as with many running lessons—applies to life.

Next stop: Dallas. Not exactly the pinnacle of comfort either, but somehow going north helps the psychological part, if not the sweat.  And it looks like the 500th mile will be somewhere very special. Sometimes the rewards of commitment just happen naturally, and sometimes with sweat. But always, always there are rewards.

That equals more than the required 40 (because I added in my head wrong!) 93% there.

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