Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm Alive, and Well

Ever have those days when you feel like you just need to slap some sense into your thick skull? No? Is it just me?

I've been carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders lately allowing frustrations to turn into stress, stress into anxiety, and anxiety into exhaustion. Staying focused on my goals ahead has been wearing me down mentally and physically. The constant need for progress greets me early in the morning and flows through my blood all day long leaving me sluggish and tired.

Maximizing my workouts has been the fuel that has been feeding me, but for the past week or so my tank has been extremely low on gas. Running has become more of a chore, something that I just need to tick off of my to-do list in order to move on to the next task. And I don't want my running to feel like this, EVER.

With the idea of progress comes the need to constantly distract myself and not let my heart be silent and still. Notions that relaxation and silence are a waste of time are rattling around in my head lately. Truth be told, life is good. There really is no need to be making myself into a tizzy. I have a wonderful husband and family, a job that while isn't a perfect fit for me right now still meets a majority of my needs, my health, love, support, and the ability to run like the wind...some of the time.

No secret here, I want to run fast. I want to fly and feel strong and powerful doing it. But lately my desire to be fast has trumped my desire to run and feel free and uninhibited. I have taken all of the fun out of running and have been making workouts serious business filled with pressures and stress to make progress. Dang you progress, why must you torture me? I appreciate that there any not any worthy achievements in life that do not come with out hard work and dedication, but for some reason my heart lately has been paying tribute to this lovely manifesto incorrectly.

Last night I decided to postpone my planned mile repeats and instead run just for the hell of it, like the olden days. I made a running groves mix, popped in my ear phones, laced up my shoes and headed out the door. While I was sweating like a beast and rockin out to the most random mix of tunes imaginable, I took a moment to pay tribute to what I was actually doing. I WAS RUNNING. Yes that sounds silly, but I was engaging in an activity that some can only dream about at a leisurely 7:40 pace for 11 miles. Dusting the dirt off my shoulders and reminding myself that pace is relative and numbers are not definitive of who I am was necessary. The pressures only exist because I put them there, and I have the power to make them fizzle away.

Running is just like every other experience in life, there are peaks and valleys. Right now I'm in a valley, a very desolate and barren valley that I am eager to get out of and pushing hard to get past. Running is not easy and if it were then everyone would do it; world records wouldn't hold significance and Ryan Hall would just be a normal guy. This valley will pass and it is a sign that progress is being made, and I just need to have a patient heart and give my body time to make adaptations...and let the pressures go.

So today I headed out for those mile repeats, pressure free. The plan was to just take them one at a time and not be concerned if I was off pace or needed to put a kibosh on the workout. No stress or pressure, just enjoy running fast. That attitude left me feeling strong and confident and able to live in the moment.

Goal pace: 5x1600's @ 6:18
Actual pace: 6:19, 6:16, 6:15, 6:11, 6:17

There are far more people in this world that endure far worse then I; those that I am focused on raising money for in Africa with Team World Vision, my friend Nicole whose running journey never seems to be easy, those that are jobless or homeless and are hungry on a daily basis. Life isn't about one day or one experience, it's about all of the moments when our character is put to the test and how we choose to move forward into the future. Running isn't the end all be all for me, it's just something that I do to bring me joy. I'm moving on to the future with joy in my heart for the life that I've got.

Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews couldn't have summed up my feelings any better

So damn easy to say that life's so hard
Everybody's got their share of battle scars
As for me, I'd like to thank my lucky stars
That I'm alive and well

It'd be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I'm alive

And today you know that's good enough for me
Breathin' in and out's a blessing, can't you see?
Today's the first day of the rest of my life
And I'm alive and well
I'm alive and well


  1. This is great, Britt. (Sorry, I know I don't comment very often, so it seems weird to use your name as if we're very familiar with each other. But it seemed equally weird to be impersonal.) You wrote this beautifully, and I'm a sucker for well-written words. I can't exactly relate to your running ability, since I see you as being on a totally different level than me, but I can relate to the push to get better, faster. And I've certainly put myself in a place at times where the running starts to feel like a chore, when really it's a gift. It's great that you were able to step back and see it for what it is. I'm sure you'll be headed out of that valley soon!

    PS you are so stinkin fast.

  2. I really have to work hard sometimes to enjoy relaxation and silence. I often feel like I'm wasting my time when I'm "relaxing", it takes work to enjoy it sometimes.

    People think I'm crazy when I tell that to them, I'm glad that you understand!

    Again, another beautifully written post.

  3. Britt, this speaks to my heart of hearts here. So much truth in just running because we love to run and letting our legs fly without the pressure of time. And when we take the pressure off, we often do better than if the pressure were on. I felt this way in my marathon on Monday. I know I hadn't trained much in the last 4 weeks so I wasn't expecting a PR so I just set out to have fun and it was my favorite race EVER! When I felt myself pick up the pace at the end, I felt I was doing what I was made to do...felt so good to just run and soak up the beauty around me and feel my legs feel strong and my heart happy. I also have been reading Born to Run and it has been making me really think about just enjoying some time away form training for anything specifically but just taking the Garmin off and hitting some trails and just loving to run without the schedule. These are some awesome splits here girl! you are amazing! What is your goal for your marathon again? 3:10 3:15? No goal?

  4. Like life in general, you sometimes need the bad times to remind you of how great the good times are. I hope you're out of that valley soon and emerge with a new zest for the run :)

  5. Ah this was SO well written! Thank you for sharing this. I often feel the same way. All I want is to get faster and I feel as though it is so much harder for me than it is for anyone else. It is good to know that speedy people like you go through the same thing even though you are already so developed in you racing abilities.

    Oftentimes I will just head out and not even go for a "run" but more of a "jog" to remind myself that I am in love with it and that it shouldn't always be about checking my Garmin or beating yesterday's time. I did that yesterday. Just a quiet run by the lakeshore and it felt amazing.

    You are so awesome and inspiring. Thank you again!

  6. Ahhhhh. You are so TALENTED. Glad you were able to kind of snap out of it and find your passion and love of running again. It's OK to have some off days. It happens. Just as soon as you're down, you're back up again though. Keep on keepin' on!! SUPER impressive mile repeats too. Go girl!

  7. Hooah! Those are some wicked mile repeats. I think my PR mile might be 6:11-ha!!! Awesome job!

    Man, I relate to so much here. "Dusting the dirt off my shoulders and reminding myself that pace is relative and numbers are not definitive of who I am was necessary" LOVE this. Peaks and Valleys FOR SURE! And yes, you will definitely climb out of this valley.

    I really find that if I can let myself off the hook occasionally on those days that it just won't work, I seem to do SO much better. Often times I've skipped a workout or FAILED a workout. I almost always do this workout later, often spontaneous and unplanned, and it goes even better!

    Have a great weekend girl! Great post here. You have such a way of articulating your thoughts:)

  8. Such a great post britt! And even though today was day one for me of running even I needed to hear it all. I already found myself wondering how long it would take to get fast again and then needed to remind myself that there is no rush!! Just to enjoy running again!!!!! Your mike repeats are awesome!!!!!!! Love ya to bits!!!

  9. I freakin love that song. I'm glad that you realized you are "alive and well" and that you had awesome mile repeats!