Saturday, April 23, 2011

Flexibility. Or: Taking Input, Making Adjustments

Today I had what I initially thought was one of the most convoluted long runs ever. But in the multiple paths I took, I still was able to accomplish the end goal. During the run, I realized the run--as ridiculous as it seemingly was--could serve as a metaphor for other parts of life: To accomplish a goal, the planned route might not work, but if one takes in the available information and makes adjustments, the goal can still be attained!

Last night I had planned a route of 10-12 miles--a nice little jog around a lake and park, and back down the trails to my house. This morning I started out later than I had planned, and with only a few raisins in belly. I don't like to eat before runs of 7 miles or less--any more mileage than that, though, and I have learned the run will probably suck without some pre-fueling. However, I was running late (pardon the pun), and hadn't structured in an eat-and-wait, so I decided to take off anyway. 3 miles in, I was hungry. The sun had disappeared, and the wind was gusting strong from the west. (Cedar Falls is definitely the windiest city I have ever experienced--sorry Chicago!). And so I did something I have never done before. I turned around. I am not kidding you when I say I have never done that before. Some people may call my tendency to complete a task bull-headed (I prefer "persevering" or "driven"), but for the most part, this personality trait has served me well. This time though, I did not want to have a bad run. I did not want to battle the wind. So I made some adjustments.

An example of my tendency to persevere despite a bad situation: Last weekend, I had registered for a 5k race in Marion. Since it was April, I did not anticipate the weather would be what it was on race day, which included ice chunks and snow blowing horizontally. It was horrible. A horrible hour-long drive on unplowed and slippery roads led to a horribly cold race. As I was warming up (not really possible given the weather!), I said aloud, "I am crazy and must be stupid to do this." But I had come all that way, and paid ten whole dollars! So I ran it anyway. And pushed against the wind. And was the first female finisher (even though my time was easily over a minute slower than my best this year). In the race, I competed against the weather. Unfortunately, the hubris of trying to subordinate the sublime to my human will is not new for me--I have shouted on windy bike rides to Zephyrus himself, "you can't intimidate me! You're making this very difficult, but I'll show you!"

Turning around this morning was a first. I went home, and fueled up. Since I had already run 5 miles, I thought a few more would be no problem with the waffle and peanut butter in me, and a new route. So I went back out, adjusting my plans to run on a route that would be more sheltered from the wind. Even then, I truncated that plan after 3 miles. I came home again, leashed up the dog, and ran one more mile.

When I arrived home the THIRD time, Steve asked me how my run went. I said it was ridiculous. I had run five miles, stopped and refueled, taken another 3 mile route, picked up the dog to alleviate boredom and loneliness, and ran another mile. In a way, though, it worked. It wasn't what I planned at all, but I listened to my body, paid attention to the weather, and adjusted to the conditions as best I could. The run wasn't a straight line or on the path I had planned, but I still accomplished my initial goal of a long run. I even exercised the dog! Perhaps more significantly, I learned to consider a new, more flexible, way to run--and be.

addendum--9.6 miles! Thank you


  1. Nice. Love this. Good for you, chica. And I'll be ready for that Mulligans rain check any day now. :)

  2. Wednesday is micro brew mug night and I love me some 1554...or Thursday is LAST DAY OF CLASS and also a mug night! Your call!!