Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Boomerang Effect

I've been reminded of something lately - you get out of life exactly what you put into it. Sometimes you have to stop and think about what you want to put in, and what you hope to get out. It's sort of like a boomerang - what you throw out there at life seems to come back to you. Sort of like karma. It can be like a transfer of energy. It can be like an interconnectedness of things in the universe. It's related to the phrase "do unto others . . "

It relates to my running. It relates to everything. It's very simple - like math. Almost black and white. When you study for an exam, you perform well. When you buy groceries you can eat. When you work at a job you get a paycheck.

Well, when you train, your body responds. Physiologically your muscles become toned, your heart rate lowers, your metabolism is more efficient, you have more energy. You can run faster and longer if you train to do that. That's a key point - if you train to do that. You have to put in the homework.

I then backtrack - what was my homework? In order to define the work, I need to define the goals. That's still black and white - or can be. But how much you really want to reach the goal becomes the grey area. Or if your goals or your homework aren't well-defined, that becomes another grey area. So what do I want out of my running? my summer? my life? my day to day existence?

I'd love to wake up at 4:30 everyday, go run for an hour, stretch, do yoga, drink herbal tea and read the paper. Have a smoothie or some muesli, then read a book or some blogs, do some writing, shower, and be on to an espresso by the time the kids roll out of bed. I could go on about what I'd love to do with my kids all day - how much we'd learn about the world and life and how hard we'd play. And by evening I'd cook amazing meals and drink wine by sunset with my husband.

So why doesn't it all happen? What happened to the black and white? There's the motivation and the discipline factors. Common sense says that if you have those, it'll all fall into place. I can pull out those attributes when I want, but for some reason I've been choosing not to.

Yesterday I woke up at 10:00, today @ 8:30, only because a friend called. I honestly think I've only run about 3 times in the last 10 days. Really weird. Especially considering that up until that point I was on track for the marathon that I had scheduled July 9th - this Sunday - 3 days away. Part of me wonders if somewhere internally I sabotaged my training becasue I really didn't want to run the marathon. Part of me knows that I lost nothing in 10 days and I'm totally capable of runing the marathon. Truly, I don't want to run the marathon, so I'm not going to . But I'm asking myself why I don't want to. I think somewhere I lost sight of what my goal was, or it wasn't important to me - not in my heart - so the homework didn' t matter. Instead I envied other 'homework' - all the others things I could be doing. I suppose I never realized how much I dream of that 4:30 am wake-up, and I thought I had to run a marathon to fulfill a goal.

Somewhere in all this - running became exactly what I've been calling it: homework. I haven't been enjoying it - it's a chore. The mere idea of having to fit my run in, gets in the way of what I want to do with my time, and spawns all sorts of guilt, lack of accomplishment, and low self-worth when I don't run. wow.

My early wake-up dream is thoughts of the homework - the journey - the process. I long for it. I don't want the goal. I don't want the destination just yet. I need desperately right now to enjoy the process before I can remember why I set the goals. Without remembering it, the goals have become empty and meaningless. I want to exist and just be.

Now I need to do some re-evaluating. I want to feel good. I want to lift weights more often to feel stronger. I want to swim and bike. I want to eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water and tea. I'm not sure why this rude awakening. I think I'm sick of feeling tired and run down and I know it's going to take all that to perk up my energy.

So . . . marathon Sunday approaches. I told myself I could run the half. But I'm not going to. I could go watch the marathon and be so inspired by watching people struggle to meet their goals. I could go for a trail run with a croup of people I've been too busy to join. Or I could get up @ 4:30 and run from home and enjoy my morning.

I've had time to contemplate all this. We went out on a friend's boat on Friday afternoon into the evening - cruised the lake until sunset. We went camping in the woods and played by the canal. I did go for a run there in some foreign neighborhood and ran from the dog who chased me - "run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!" We watched the fireworks from a hill nearby our home - 3 shows in one, actually. From our location, we could see the ones out over the bay, and behind it see another show that's listed as one of the top 5 in the country. The real thrill came from the lightning show that was occurring behind and beside them - with the city lights as a backdrop. Truly, truly amazing. I finished two books - Dean Karnazes - Ultramarathon Man, and a book called, The Ha-Ha, by Dave King. Both very enlightening and encouraged my thoughts on life. We were in a small town on the 3rd of July at a holiday festival of sorts. I wandered into a store and had a spiritual experience. Kind of cool. No major event, but something that made me think the store was put there for me that day to help put things in perspective.

Now it's off to my day and my choices. I think the first order of business is a tea party with my little girls. Happy trails!


Anne said...

I think you've nicely defined what the rest of the world would call burnout. It happens to all of us that hold an athletic pursuit near and dear. And you're the first person I know that's read The Ha-Ha. I almost ordered it numerous times but never got around to actually buying it. Now I will.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

interesting. I agree with anne re: burnout.

johnny's been going through a very similar experience since about spring. he took off an entire 2 months of running, and even though he's starting back up again now, he is adamant that he is not training for a race. doesn't want the pressure; just wants to enjoy it again.

Robb said...

Feel no shame. Much has changed around you - the kids are home now from school, so there's lots of adjusting. The same applies to your running and running goals. You are sifting through it and it will work out. This break from running (marathon in sight or not) is likely what you need right now.

IHateToast said...

i had been feeling that way. so tired of not running my best because of pain i might feel or the guilt of knowing i'm healing more slowly.... then the guilt of not running. i changed my goals or rather i reminded myself that i'm not running for any other reason than to have fun.
didn't happen overnight, but i did find the joy in it again. even in the pain when it came. instead of being frustrated, i decided i was a pain-enduring badass.

one thing that helps me is that running isn't my only thing. i do read a lot. i try to make things (very poorly but hey...). and i spend a lot of time just rolling around with my own fur kids.

i think sometimes we feel we've committed to things just by blogging it. we've put it out there in writing, now we have to stand by what we wrote. but we don't. and we can choose to run or not run various races for any reason.

it'll become fun again. remember that some homework was fun. it had variety. challenged us. some was boring and redundant. ...and we always got a summer vacation.

now go and chant from meatballs... it just doesn't matter!

JustRun said...

I think when training isn't your job, it can be very difficult to find a balance. You may not be burned out on training, just life. I think it's wise to take a break and just be. Constant evaluation is normal for me. You have to take a moment to decide what's worth your time right now. Who wants to do something if your heart's not in it anyway?
Besides, a tea party sounds far more enlightening to me. :)

Joe said...

No sweat about the marathon. If your heart is not in it and you have chosen not to go, then you made the right decision.

When my friends teeter on the edge of overtraining I tell them "You've got to stay hungry. If you're not excited to be out there training then it's time to take a rest day (or two, or three, whatever)."

Enjoy your tea party!

Josh said...

Ginger Breadman... I really enjoy reading your blog - your honesty is refreshing.

I am reminded of the Buddist proverb "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

Listen to your body - it is the best teacher there is.

Just12Finish said...

I hope you find what you're looking for. Life's a marathon, not a sprint (couldn't resist the metaphor!), so take your time.

Sarah said...

Sounds like you made the right decision. There's nothing worse than being in race (especially a marathon) when your heart isn't in it.

Running should be energizing. I'm sure you'll be on your way to finding that spark again soon.