Looking back on my life, it seems I’ve always taken the difficult path, the steepest route. It was never my intention, but things just seem to work out that way. Kind of like when you choose a line at the grocery thinking it will be the quickest, and then you must wait patiently while a sweet old lady writes a check or someone fumbles for their coupons, and all the while the others that were once behind you are zipping through the line.
I never wanted to always take the rocky trail, but it’s how it worked out for me. I used to say “why me?” or “what rotten luck”, “this sucks” but after years of climbing hills they just don’t seem that steep anymore… I have adapted. Just like running, I now cruise up those hills and, yes, they can be challenging at times, especially when I am tired, but I no longer ask “why me?” or “Damn I hate this”. I have spent many years beating myself up and putting myself down for always choosing the tough road, for having to do things my way. Instead of just listening to what people tell me, I’d rather experience my lessons first hand. Now, I look back and that independence may be the single thing I am most proud of in myself.
The strength and endurance I gain from pushing through those moments prepares me for what may lie ahead. I am confident that if there are mountains to be climbed in my future, I am ready. It won’t be easy, but I know I can make it to the top and be OK. I will adapt to those circumstances just as I have adapted to the hills. What does a marathon teach you? The simple truth that life is difficult, you may even hit a wall, and whether or not you finish depends on what you tell yourself. You can have this conversation: “I hate this! Why am I doing this?” or this one: “I will make it through this, I am strong and I won’t let this challenge beat me down”. The choice is yours and this simple lesson applies to everyone not just runners.
It sounds basic, but why hang on to the negative? When I hang on to the negative, often times I am tired or have not been caring for myself, doing too much for others and I need a break to re-gain my compassion. Compassion for myself leads to compassion for others. I do the same in running, often times you have been over training and this leads to poor performance. Finding the balance and listening to your mind and body may be the single biggest challenge we all face. Being conscious, of your self and those around you.
So, the next time you strap on your running shoes and you are faced with a hill, or perhaps a mountain, look deep into your soul. How do you feel? Strong and brave? Tired and resentful? Whatever you are feeling, you will get over that hill and will always be stronger because of it. Be quiet, listen, trust your body and, more important, your essence.
You’re one step closer to adaptation.