So I’m running through the park and all of the sudden I realize something. I’m enjoying this. I’m actually enjoying running.
For most of my life, running was a means to an end. To check it off my list. Burn up a few calories. To get it done. During the week, I ran on a treadmill at the gym during lunch or after work: Headphones blaring, red treadmill lights judging, shower bacteria growing. On weekends, I’d run in the park: Sunglasses fogging, skin burning, tree roots tripping.
And always, I moved through my days with running-related injuries. I just lived with it.
I took a lot of Advil.
But here in Paris, running is different. Most mornings, I head over to Jardin des Plantes and run up one long end of a tree covered lane, “Top of the first,” I whisper to myself. I loop around at the end and head back down the lane. “Bottom of the first.” And so on until my private little baseball game is complete.
No headphones. No treadmill. No stinky gym shower. No burnt skin. No sunglasses.
I figured it out. I figured out how to make running work for me. And I realized somewhere between the top of the second and bottom of the fourth that this is how intelligent people design the good life.
We try something and if we find some value in it, we evaluate what is and isn’t working. We add something or eliminate something. We try it again. Repeat until perfected.
The treadmill wasn’t working. Nor the sunglasses. Nor the headphones. But running was still worth it. My running form? Not perfect. My speed? Snail’s pace. Any trainer will tell me that I haven’t improved at all. Oh but I have.
Before, I was running with the wrong definition of improvement.
I was running with this insane equation: Run faster + run longer =???? I don’t even know what that was supposed to equal. Thinner? Stronger? Healthier? In reality, my equation was this:
Run faster + run longer = overexertion = injury = misery
My new self rolls her eyes at my old self. Get a clue, lady!
My new definition of improvement is simple: Aim to be injury free and have fun out there.
A small miracle, people.
And with this new model, my mind is free to roam. Without looking at the clock and measuring my progress, insights flow freely, problems are solved and healing happens.
For example, the other day as I was running, an old situation came up in my head. Something that still miffed me years later. So I let it run its course. I got angry, I got sad, I thought of all the things I wish I would have said, and by the top of the sixth, I had arrived at a place where I was able to forgive us both and let us off the hook. The situation no longer had charge. It was a tired monologue that wasn’t serving me. It lifted out of my soul and floated away.
It was gone. And it stayed gone.
At the end of the run, I walked through the flower garden in the park and gazed at the blooms. Each time I saw a beautiful, fully opened bloom, I thought back to the person with whom I had the situation and whispered, “This bloom is you.” Another bloom. “This bloom is you.” And so on until I thought about this person and smiled.
The run was a success.
Miles ran vs Time ran: Don’t know vs Don’t care.
Performance improvement: Oh yeah. Big time.