I have been thinking a lot about the idea of running TO something vs. running FROM something.
This basic theme keeps cropping up and brushing at the fringes of recent conversations.
I flew to Boston to cheer for friends running THE BOSTON MARATHON this past weekend. (Hannah, Wade, Ana Lu and Spencer’s friend Matt – ALL ran their first Boston!)
Flying is fun for me. Especially now that I don’t need a seat belt extender. 🙂
I’m an extrovert. I love to talk to people. I think everyone I meet can possibly become a friend.
I’ve met some phenomenal people by striking up random conversations, heard amazing life stories and made new friends.
This trip was no exception.
I was on planes FULL of runners! Everyone was excited, lots of chatter about running.
Conversations about running usually start with ‘how did you get started with running?’ or ‘how long have you been running?’. I can now tell my running story in a few short sentences…
“I used to weigh close to 400 pounds. I’ve lost 220 pounds. I was type 2 diabetic, taking three shots a day less than four years ago. Eating less and learning to run have very literally saved my life.’
I got asked twice on this trip ‘what forced me to finally change my life?’
People usually ask me the same question using phrases like ‘what made you…’, ‘what drove you…’ or ‘why did you finally decide…’
This time they used the word force. I feel that ‘force’ is an odd word to use in regards to personal changes. So when I walked away, I thought about why the use of the word ‘force’, in a casual conversation, was irritating me.
‘Force’ is a negative word.
But I knew that wasn’t all that was bugging me.
I thought about it over the next two days. What I started to discern was related threads of a life-long pattern: Any time I have ever failed at anything or given up or decided I didn’t want to do something — it was because there was an element of being ‘forced’.
It was someone else’s idea about what/how I should be eating.
I was not buying into the idea at all. (‘I don’t believe in myself’ could be inserted here…)
I was afraid, defeated and/or desperate. (Not a choice, a lack of options…)
A key differences this time around? This has all been MY CHOICE.
I was ready to fight and I was feeling brave.
I was RUNNING TOWARD something. I wasn’t fleeing. I wasn’t running away. I wasn’t being forced.
This has all been my decision. I want it. I work at it every day.
Reversing Type 2. Losing weight. Running. Finding a way to stay healthy for the rest of my life.
I wanted this change more than anything I have ever wanted in my entire life.
I also realized that I was slightly offended that someone would think someone/something else was actually, or specifically negatively, to credit for all of my hard work.
Forcing someone to do something is NOT a recipe for long-term success. We all know that… Right?
I lucked into a great conversation with some women at the airport, post-marathon. Three of them had run the marathon, two of us had not. They asked us what kind of running we did; and quickly and generously brought us into their conversation.
After talking about times/paces/the course, the conversation went to funny signs, grossest porta-potties, weirdest running attire, best shirts, supportive volunteers. The funny and incredible stories that a large event brings to the surface!
Talk moved to coaches and the process of how you go about getting ready for a really big event. All of us had coaches. We talked about the positive impact of preparing for a big event with someone by your side the entire time who cares about your safety and growth and goals. Lots of laughter and eye rolls and stories about how our coaches individually torture us in their own ways.
We all acknowledged that our coaches had more belief in who we were and what we could do than we had in ourselves at points and times. And that running was actually only a small part of what they are actually teaching us.
We talked about training. Training is what makes you into the athlete. The ‘event’ is the celebration, the party! You have done the WORK, put in the hours and learned a lot about yourself during training. The event is where you put it all together and see it in action!
Training is the process that makes you, builds you.
I had mostly figured out why ‘force’ bugged me. But it seemed related to the bigger idea of running to/from something… So I spent time on the first leg of the flight home thinking about why I run and train.
Training and running for me is entirely about moving TOWARD something.
It’s really that simple.
I am not running FROM anything. Learning to run wasn’t someone elses idea. Even when Spencer gives me ridiculous hill repeats and I know I’ll hate that specific workout; its still ME choosing each day to use running as a process to stay healthy.
Even in the very beginning of this crazy odyssey to learn to run, I wholeheartedly accepted and appreciated that everything (even the really hard stuff!) was part of the process of moving toward a place I really, really wanted to be.
‘Force’ is the not the right word. Not at all. I don’t like it. I’m sticking ‘force’ in the same category as ‘have to’ and ‘can’t’.
But it served as a great catalyst to frame my thinking about some things that really needed to be considered in greater detail.
It helped me get crystal clear about the fact that I am literally and figuratively running TOWARD a whole bunch of really great stuff!
What are you running toward?!