Not so friendly, it turns out, if it starts to get in the way of your goals. I'm a pretty competitive person. I knew I would have a tough time learning how to run without some sort of ultimate goal towards which I could work. I also really really don't like exercising unless there's a purpose to what I'm doing. Going out for a run "because it's good for me" has never really cut it. This past month has been a stressful one and as a result, I ended up sitting out most of the week with a nasty cold. I was feeling very frustrated about not being able to get my training in, and have had a handful of bad runs back to back to back. I felt discouraged, and really started getting down on myself. Did I think I could finish the marathon in under 6 hours? Did I think I can finish at all?
Sometimes it's good to remind ourselves that we are only human, and our goals are only markers to which we, as humans have given some sort of tangential significance. They're great to have if you need a target, but if they are holding you back and stressing you out where you feel trapped and paralyzed by the fear of not making them, what good do they do you? This was where I found myself the last few days; agonizing about everything that wasn't good enough.
Good enough for who?
Good enough to what?
Good enough to satisfy all of the nagging insecurities that plague us, as human beings, each day, and that push us to better ourselves in the innumerable ways possible? So that we can be perfect?
And what is good enough? That thought really hit me. I thought to myself, "if I could someday, maybe in a few years, run a marathon in under 5 hours, that'll be good enough. I'd be happy with that." Then it hit me what I was saying. I've been training for this marathon for four months, and I'm already setting up a cutoff for myself to define what's "good enough"? Part of my reason for signing up for this marathon with Team in Training was to establish a baseline level of fitness and proper form that I could use to maintain a level of activity for the rest of my life. I wanted to learn to run, and to run, walk, crawl, finish a marathon to show myself that I can do it - that I can be stronger than any negativity or any trap I might set out for myself. And I wanted to do that in tandem with raising money for a cause in which I believe in so strongly. And all of a sudden, I was telling myself that this wasn't good enough? That I shouldn't be happy to be where I am right now, because I can do better, and be better? That's crap, and I've been telling myself this crap for too many years now. It's time to stop. It's time for me to go out for a run just because it's good for me. I don't have to be fast. I'm not fast now, and regardless of whether I get faster in the future, it won't last forever. That doesn't mean I should stop doing something I enjoy - whether it's running or swimming, or any sort of exercise. Being a good runner will in no way improve my quality of life, but finding enjoyment out of the fitness that comes from regular exercise, and to a degree, the exercise itself, absolutely will.
I don't know what will happen on November 6th. But I know where I'll be: at the starting line of the New York City Marathon. And anything past that, I'm trying not to let into my head. As long as I finish, I'll be happy. Or as Edmund Hilary once said, "it's not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."