Friday, August 24, 2012
Many of you may know by now that I’m training for my second marathon. It’s coming up in less than a month. I’ll be running 42 kilometres, uphill, both ways, in 40 feet of snow… oh – no wait - that was my Grandpa. No, the marathon I’ll be doing is 42km. That’s roughly the equivalent of running from Wetaskiwin to Nisku. But that’s going to be the easy part.
The hard part is every single training run I go on. Like this past weekend, when I ran 30 kilometres. That’s more than a half marathon. But there’s no medal, no water stations, no cheering and no adrenalin to help me through. It’s just me, my runners, the fuel I’ve brought along and my team. Thank God for them.
Every time we get together for a LSD run (that’s ‘long, slow distance’ and not some kind of drug run, just to clarify) I wonder just how I will survive this one. I start to conjure up ways I can get out of the training event. Maybe I’ll just wimp out and say I can’t do it. No, that’s not me. Perhaps I can fake an injury? Maybe I’ll even actualize an injury! Or if I just hang back enough, they won’t even notice I’m gone. D’oh! The coach is running beside me. That plan won’t work.
Inevitably, my plans end up being just that: imagined illusions. As I’m scheming all of the ways I’ll be prematurely ending the run, somehow my feet keep on moving – even in the absence of my brain. I think it’s probably best that way. And (mostly) before I know it, I’m done! Four and a half hours have passed by, and I’ve only partially dreamt up the scheme where I pretend to tie my shoelace, get disoriented and ‘accidentally’ head back to the car.
It’s a similar story for the Tuesday night training. On Tuesdays, we repeatedly run hills or perform other challenges that I think are considered forms of torture in some parts of the world. I noticed that the days I most dread these runs are always the hardest. I also noticed that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Sometimes I show up ready to tackle those hills. I just take them one step at a time. Other times, I show up angry at the conditions, and I end up embarrassing myself as I legitimately try to propel myself with whining and complaining. But occasionally, I’m just smart enough to transcend the hills and my hatred for them. On these days, I realize there’s an easy way out, and it doesn’t involve quitting.
The best way to tackle the challenge, I’ve found, is to resign myself to it. Whether I resign peacefully or indignantly, as long as I bring myself and my mind to a place of accepting the challenge, I’m able to move beyond it. That’s where the magic happens.
I’m convinced that accepting the challenge is the most powerful ways to overcome it. This is one of the most valuable techniques I learned in University, and it’s something I picked up… in Clown Class (yes, you read that correctly). One of the exercises we did was to drain ourselves of the emotions we hold. It’s an exercise in returning to a fully neutral state.
Although this was not the point of the exercise at all, I learned a very valuable lesson upon its completion: it’s often not the challenge of something that makes it so hard to accomplish, it’s how I think and feel about that challenge that will inevitably decide the outcome. If I think that something is hard, inevitably I’m right. But if I stop thinking about how hard something is, and I just tell myself that it is what it is, that’s when I can accept it and move on. That’s when I begin to overcome.
You see, I’m fortunate to have a choice in the matter. I’ve willingly signed up for this venture. I knew what I was getting into when I first started, unlike those I’m running for.
The team I run with is an assembly of people who have come together for a cause: the Leukaemia Lymphoma Society. We all fundraise and help bring awareness to these (and other) blood cancers. The work we do and money we raise helps to fund research and to improve the lives of those struggling to survive.
If I am an inspiration in the kilometres I run and the training I do, those battling cancer are truly heroes. They didn’t sign up. They didn’t have a choice. They can’t stop fighting their way to the top of the hill, towards a cure, fighting for their lives.
If you would like to make a difference in their lives, please visit my fundraising page at goo.gl/f33xj to make a donation to the Leukaemia Lymphoma Society.
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