This year has really felt like a whirlwind for me so far. It has been wonderful and challenging in so many ways. I had my first experience of dropping out of a marathon, got a new job, am planning a move, started Kundalini Yoga teacher training and, dearest to my heart, got engaged.
With so much of my life in transition running is one of my constants. I am able to say with certainty that each day I will be going for at least one run, two if I am lucky :) There is so much added on to this when we start talking about competition. That opens the door to expectation of performance, constant self evaluation and mental strength development that only comes with patience and persistence.
I am blessed to be on a team of talented and inspiring women and to know some amazing male runners as well. Come race day - at the finish line - more often than not my comrades have critical remarks about their performances. We have very high goals and very high expectations of ourselves. This can leave us feeling pretty down if we have a poor performance, regardless of the reasons. When I first started running with this caliber of athlete I found it discouraging to hear the post race critique. Now I have a very different perspective. The study of performance helps us determine which factors were in our control that we can ideally adjust during the next race. This is not only a useful practice but an empowering one.
I recently spoke with my coach about my perceived lack of fitness gains in relationship to my performances. He consoled and educated me by saying that a lot of athletes do not have personal records that accurately reflect their gifts/fitness. He attributed this to a number of possibilities but it struck a chord in me. This sport that I love has the power to either uplift or compress my spirit, depending on how I relate to it. But as I look at my habit - of getting out and running each and every day - I recognize that staying steady and being consistent also means having compassion for myself for what I am capable of in the moment. Since this varies greatly it requires a lot of attention but I am really learning to sense the days that are going to feel amazing and the ones that will be a struggle from start to finish. On the tough days I pick some motivating music or adjust my focus from working hard to simply enjoying the run. Since I have developed a greater presence and acceptance of these fluctuations I find that I am mentally stronger and able to dig deeper when I need to. It's been a great learning experience :)
I am also in the middle of a 40 day sadhana (an "ego-transcending spiritual practice", wiki :)). This includes a 54 minute yoga set followed by a minimum of 22 minutes of meditation, sometimes up to 33. I will have more to share on this next time but can say for now that this is another of my constants, to keep me steady on the path.
Thanks for reading :)