Anyone who works out knows that changing routine is the key to getting your body conditioned and in top form. Changing the demands on the body means new ways to exercise the muscles are necessary to keep the body challenged. So in keeping with this philosophy, I decided to take on a particularly delicious looking trail that I had reserved for my optimum form training. It had all the sweet circuitous hills and scenery necessary to keep me interested for the duration of the run.
So after months of training indoors and on other familiar trails, I finally made my way to the trail I had reserved for my optimum challenge. The run started out easily enough, surrounded by lush scenery and flowing streams, it didn’t take long before I found my rhythm and lost myself to the enjoyable experience of running. After about twenty minutes, I came to a fork on the trail. There was signage pointing out that if I proceeded one way I would find myself on the 13.6 mile run route. The alternate route was a 5 mile option.
Smirking internally at the ease in which I could finish the 5 mile option; I took the 5 mile option and continued on running with an extra spring to my step. I continued on this way, taking in nature’s kaleidoscope and the smattering of houses that sometimes managed to peek through the woods. A reassuring reminder that if necessary any of these could be safe harbors should something go wrong. At another point, I came to another fork. Except this time, there was no sign indicating what each of the two options were offering.
Picking up sounds of traffic led me to believe that the left option would be better. The thought was that it would somehow get me closer to my starting point. So I continued on. After 10 minutes running with no signage indicating how many miles I had run, that little extra spring in my step instantly left. ,My breathing got more labored. The trail seemed harder and somehow more unpleasant. The surroundings I had previously been celebrating suddenly seemed ominous and never-ending.
“Where is the end to this trail?” I mused and was immediately followed by the thought that, “gosh my feet are tired!”
At first I didn’t understand why fatigue seemed to suddenly descend and threatened to topple the great mood I had been in before. The only sign of encouragement were the occasional runners who of course in the runner’s code of camaraderie acknowledged me with a thumbs up or breathless greeting.I squashed the urge to turn and follow these runners who actually seemed to know where they were going but I didn’t know what they would think of me just joining their little running passe.
The thought that this might be taking longer than the easy 5 miles I had planned on occurred to me when I noticed I had been running consistently for over 2 hours.
I wanted to stop!
I wanted to cry!
I wanted to turn back!
I didn’t want to go on!
I didn’t have my phone or I would have called my husband to pick me up!
I wasn’t enjoying my run anymore. My lungs seemed to be puffing more laboriously and the thought that my lungs would give out was never far from my mind.The negative chatter in my head continued and at one point I even entertained the thought of simply stretching out on an especially green looking lawn and taking a little nap.
At that very moment I realized that just like the previous forks on the trail, I had two choices. I could continue with the chatter that would encumber my run and drain any possibility of enjoying the run, or I could continue running and enjoy the scenery,and my surroundings and find my way back in the time that my choice would give me. So gently, ever so gently, I acknowledged that it wasn’t the ideal situation not to know how much I had already run. Then I focused on my breathing. Slowly, regulating my breath so that I took in enough air letting out enough busts so I wasn’t gasping when running. My steps fell into the rhythm of my breathing and I soon lost myself again in the process of feeling my body engage in the environment. Another fork and choice later, I found myself emerging from an inconspicuous thicket of shrubbery that led to the parking lot.
I had run for 3 hours straight!
It didn’t matter how far I had run that day although I am pretty sure I ran more than 5 miles that day. I learned one valuable lesson. Enjoying the process is critical to seeing you to the end. Knowing the targeted end is great. It gives you the goal to strive towards. But neglecting the process of going through the process can make you miss out on the experience of getting there.
Log into your experience. You will enjoy the result all the more for it.