I’m re-reading one of my favorite books about running right now. It’s Ryan Hall’s Running With Joy, which is his daily journal that he kept in preparation for the 2010 Boston Marathon. I seem to quote Ryan a lot on this blog because he’s my first and favorite elite athlete. Ryan offers a Christian perspective to his training that can be applied to any area of life and it’s one that I relate to and gain perspective from often, both as a runner and in my faith-life.
One of the latest little gems that I picked up from Ryan was on character training. …I’m trying to keep a positive attitude but it’s tough, Ryan says. I want to see this as an opportunity for Christ to work in me and develop my character. Character training is harder than any workouts I do.
If you’re a regular reader, you may or may not remember that I went into a running slow-down a few months ago around the turn of the year. I stopped running completely due to a weird foot injury. The whole experience brought about an unearthing of a lot of deep emotional baggage through which I’m still sifting and processing. The short and simple update on the injury is that I’m still working through it. My feet seem to bounce back and forth between one hurting one day or week, and the other the next. I’ve come back up to a few miles a week and people ask me all the time how I’m doing, whether I’m back to running. For the most part, my answer is “no, not really.” I say this even though my garmin and training journal clearly show progress. Some part of the perfectionistic, type-A runner in me does not consider 10-15 easy miles per week running even though it’s clearly what I’ve been doing. To be clear, this outlook only applies to myself. If I had this conversation with any other person, I’d want to smack them on the forehead and affirm, “You’re a runner. You’re running!”
I bought the training journal in the above picture as a gift to self last fall, after a particularly big-for-me accomplishment. I saved it up for the beginning of the year, as I was looking forward to putting it to use to accomplish some big goals. When the injury appeared and I had to stop running completely, I did not want to use it. It made me feel like crap to be logging zero-miles for weeks at a time, even worse to have gone to the gym to cross train and realize I couldn’t do that either. I made a pact with myself that I’d still use it though, choosing to write down where I was at both mentally and physically and provide an accurate recording of the experience. In the past, I haven’t been so good about this and I look back at old training journals and see only a record of miles or times logged. There’s never been much description of where my head has been or how my body has felt. I have had lots of past injuries and none of them have been as mentally traumatic as this one. From the beginning, I have felt there is something significant to learn from this experience.
I find that life often throws messages at me from all angles, bombarding me when there’s something I need to work on. Last week, it was the idea that I do A LOT of negative self-talk. I do it without realizing. I yell fairly violent words at myself for being clumsy, for forgetting, for being less-than-my-best. I bottle up and resent parts of me, I throw angry thoughts at my feet, and then push them as far as I know they can go in running. I will them to feel better, all the while silently berating them for being so broken. It was suggested that I recognize when I’m being negative and simply work on stopping those thoughts at their very beginning, with the idea that illness begins in the mind and can subsequently influence bodily illness. After having multiple professionals look at the physical reasons/weaknesses that might be causing and perpetuating the injury to no avail, I feel even more resolute in this.
My New Year’s Resolution was Thankfulness brings Increase, the idea of taking what God has given, no matter the joy or suffering, give thanks for it, and use it for His good. This practice has helped me to feel unbelievably blessed in much of my life, and I’ve been able to recognize there are far more important things than me, my problems, and what I want to do. In the past week too, since the beginning of simply recognizing my personal negativity, it has been curbed dramatically, likely in part because I don’t truly think so little of myself as all the negative thinking might imply.
But–I’m also a pusher. I want to see progress of the physical sort. What was a celebration last week, if not progressing, feels like stagnancy and/or going backwards this week, and on and on. It is character training to not always be moving forward, getting better. I had a thought when I was in the middle of the zero-miles months that this phase is true preparation for the goals that are still waiting for me. I am being prepared mentally in ways I never could have been without this phase, for the time when I’m ready to be tested again physically.
I cannot agree more with Ryan’s words. Character training is far harder than any workouts I do or have done. It is far harder than any physical pain I have endured in this or previous injuries. And for that, today, I am especially thankful, for I see very real progress in character training. :)
Good-Energy Maca “Latte”, makes 1 steamy cuppa
Adapted from Laura, this is my good-energy drink of choice lately. There’s a lot of talk that maca, a root vegetable from the Andes, is an adaptogen, and helps the mind and body positively respond to stress. I’m not really interested in the exact science of it because I feel a genuine lift every time I sip it. The taste of maca reminds me mildly of butterscotch which pairs nicely with the flavors of ginger and turmeric, and the color, too, is cheerful, so there we have it. The pinch of black pepper isn’t necessarily noticeable in taste, but helps the turmeric be more bio-available. Add it if you like.
12 oz. unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp. maca
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
a pinch of black pepper
sweetener of choice
In a small saucepan, whisk the maca and spices into the milk over medium heat. Once the mixture nearly begins to simmer, remove from heat, pour into a mug, and add sweetener to taste.