A decade ago a wise older friend reminded me that we are no different from a molecule of water in the ocean. Over the course of our lives we are carried with the waves along an unpredictable and uncontrollable journey. Although our instincts prompt us to rejoice as we crest the peaks and agonize as we struggle through the troughs, it is futile resist the current. Her words echoed through my mind as I ran today, noticing the peaks and troughs of the day’s run as well as those of my running evolution over the years. Each foot strike imparted a novel experience … in one moment I was floating – the next, feeling strongly connected with a passing runner – the next, anxiously aware of a nagging weakness in my ankle – the next, disengaged from my body, engrossed in composing a paper for my most recent research study. It is natural to notice both the positive and negative of every run, but the danger arises when we expect either to persist. Sometimes we are blessed with a run composed entirely of euphoric moments … and sometimes those moments are filled with fatigue, discouragement or pain. But dwelling in the bad will only intensify the misery and dwelling in the good will make the fall all the harder.
Just as we are carried along the current of a given run, so do we ebb and flow through our days, weeks and years of running. Upon my first significant running injury two years ago, I was struck with anxiety and terror that I would be permanently incapacitated and my running days were over. Although deeply distressed at the time, I now see that those fears were no more than irrational fabrications of my overactive mind. Over the years, most runners will inevitably experience challenging periods that we’d like to wish away. Whether they involve a disappointing race performance, a week of sluggishness or a year battling injury, these hurdles are fleeting. Although I admittedly continue to struggle through such troughs, I have discovered that they can sometimes be as valuable as the peaks. They can serve as humbling triggers that force me to re-evaluate my personal goals and reasons for running, as well as enhance my awareness of both my own body and surroundings. I have begun to embrace these challenges as opportunities to learn from the possible structural, functional or even psychological imbalances that may underlie a problem. By remaining open to these periods of exploration they can become phenomenally informative and provide invaluable insight into the interactions between my body, mind and environment.
To conclude, some inner ramblings from the day’s run – a personal reminder of my alter-ego, H2O:
The present is static but existence is dynamic. Embrace this moment as it is all that you have or all that exists. You cannot retrieve the past and you cannot yet access the future. Now is your only reality so appreciate all that it may offer. But do not cling to it, since in a moment it will dissolve. However pleasurable now is, no effort can make this experience persist. However painful now may be, in a flash it will be replaced by a distinct set of sensations, thoughts and emotions … by an entirely novel, fresh reality.