I recently did a podcast interview with my friend Tracey Outlaw. Tracey said something interesting about embracing challenges in running. It's had me thinking about embracing challenges in my life. He said no matter what distance the race is we're running we can be sure challenges are going to come along. And if we plan for how we're going to embrace those challenges, we can have a productive race.
I found a couple of things interesting about that comment.
One, he didn't say we should plan for how we'll overcome the challenges, he suggested we should plan for how we'll embrace them. My mindset is often all about overcoming when thinking about the challenges I'll face in a particular run. I spend time preparing myself for adverse weather conditions or resistance that might come with that day's distance. I plan for weary legs and lungs that start fighting for the next breath. I psyche myself up; I tell myself those particular challenges are on their way and I should be prepared to run over them.
When you think of embracing challenges and not running them over, though, that's a much different mindset. As different as giving the next person who approaches you on the street a hug instead of punching him in the gut. The embracing mindset says I love this opportunity to run in the heat; the overcoming one says I'm not afraid of walking through a little fire.
How we transform ourselves from someone who plans to overcome to someone who plans to embrace is tied to the second thing I found interesting about what Tracey said. It struck me that he didn't say when we embrace the challenges we'll have a victorious run or even a great one - he said we'd have a productive run.
I think as runners, and many days as a society - whether we're talking about students or workers or parents - we've devalued being productive. We spend so much time focused on finish line pictures, valedictorian speeches and the fancy titles attached to job duties that we've become blind to the incredible things that take place in the daily grind. A grind that rarely leads to high profile accomplishments, but always leads to something better.
A better runner. A better person.
If I start this day dreaming of being an all world this or a famous that, then the challenges I see coming my way represent something standing in my way. They are enemies frothing at the mouth intent on denying me the fame I deserve. But when I start this day dreaming of ending it a better person, when I treasure the idea that I will have more regard for the night me than I had for the morning me, the challenges coming my way will look like opportunities. They are chances for me to think and work productively to tackle something that's going to make me wiser and stronger.
There are challenges coming your way today. That's the truth.
Are you smiling at them, arms spread wide ready to embrace them?
Or is your head lowered, your teeth gritting, as you ready youself to bowl them over?
Don't bowl them over. Or punch them in the gut. At least not without hugging them.
Thank them when they leave, for the opportunity they gave you.
To be productive.
To become better.
To make the night you shine brighter than the morning you.
If even just a little.
You can listen to my interview with Tracey Outlaw here:
An Interview with Tracey Outlaw - US National 24-hour Running Team - Episode 22
Life is like running.