Earlier this week I interviewed my friend Ashlynn Davis for my TwoTim47.com podcast series. One of the things Ashlynn talked about was being fierce. She said "You have to be fierce in your intentions to succeed in conquering life's challenges."
One of the running challenges I've faced lately is the changing seasons. I can't believe just over 2 months ago I ran my fastest half-marathon ever in upper 30 degree temperatures in Cincinnati, Ohio. And now, earlier this week, in temperatures nearly 60 degrees warmer, I struggled through half that distance at a pace that made me look more like a statue of a runner than one out there collecting miles.
Summer can do that to runners. Some estimates say for every 5°F rise in temperature above 60°F the running pace will slow 20-30 seconds per mile. When I first started running my inclination was to fight that estimate. Fight against the science of dew point, thermoregulation and blood volume. The problem is my ego and all the willpower in the world are million to one long shots in a matchup against that kind of science.
What do I do now? I accept that reality. I know the results are going to be different. But we need to remember, different doesn't equal worse - no matter how inclined we are to interpret it that way. I know now my running success is about effort. So my goal these days when I'm running in the oppressive heat, even if it's running slower, is to give the same amount of effort to the heat as I give to the more friendly autumn morning runs. The key here is realizing the watch isn't always the best measure of effort or fierceness.
I think sometimes our approach to life struggles is similar. An unexpected change in the seasons of life, whether we're blindsided by divorce or unemployment or an addiction or countless other real life struggles, I think our instinct is to fight to keep our life results - our joy and contentment or our financial standing - exactly where it was before the change in seasons.
Many times that's not realistic. Just like fighting against the summer running conditions is going to be futile in pursuit of fall and spring results, fighting against our life circumstances to remain where we were before the circumstances changed is equally fruitless and even unhealthy.
When my friend Ashlynn talks about being fierce in our intentions to succeed in conquering life's challenges, her idea of success isn't based on getting back to where we once were, it's based on fighting for and embracing a healthy new place to be. All while confidently understanding that fierce gives us the power to declare a new place doesn't have to be a worse place.
So that's where I've come to with my summer running. I'm embracing the idea that even though the watch says slower, my heart and head say I'm growing more fierce by the moment as I tackle the challenging conditions. And I'm old enough to know when you can be at peace with your head and your heart, the watch becomes irrelevant.
Happy summer running all.
Life is like running.