Monday, January 19, 2009

The Discipline of Running

Like most people, I perform much better when I have a goal. I've tried wandering aimlessly, and it stinks. More on that in a second.

The running lifestyle instills discipline, which leads to improved mental acuity and a stronger body that's more able to meet life's challenges. Running races takes it up a notch. In fact, it's not running the actual race that helps runners like me; it's the preparation. The scheduling, execution and recoveries are part of a cycle that I've thankfully embraced. Through steady daily performances, the mind and body are rewarded. Work goes better. Marriage and relationships are better. Bad habits have difficulty taking root. The routine of work, church and running complement each other. Peace of mind is easier to achieve.

Bad habits have a way of creeping up on each of us. When we slide, we tend to rationalize that we think we're in control, when we're not. When we're in free fall, it's often too late to address what's driving the irresponsible, sometimes dangerous behavior. Like every human on this planet, I've succumbed to weakness over the course of my life ... eating poorly, drinking too much, stewing over misfortune ... the list goes on. Running has helped me assert more control over my life. Most runners understand this; many who don't run or exercise much probably do, too.

All of us know a naysayer or two. I will never forget what one doubter said to me a few years ago: "You'll get injured. Aren't you running too far? You might even have a heart attack." Ten years ago, trapped in my own doubt, I might have listened to those words. Fortunately, by the time I heard such nonsense I had broken free of my own doubt. I listened politely to it, allowing it only to firm my resolve.

My new goals are to run the Tom King Half Marathon March 14 and my first full marathon in June. The Tom King will be my eighth half marathon since 2006. I ran my first half marathon at the Tom King in 2006 and my PR half marathon there in 2008, going well under the two-hour barrier that needled me. I love this race for those and other reasons. I have circled the inaugural Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon for my first full. Happenings at work potentially could bump that race, but I plan to be fit enough to run my first full early this summer.

Like 10 years ago, I have doubts about running my first 26.2. But I've conquered my doubts before and plan to vanquish them again, throughout training this winter and spring.


PJ said...

Great goals, Jim. I have no doubts you'll achieve them.

ChuckEastNashville said...

Jim, be sure and wear running shorts to Tom King, not those backyard cookout cotton golf shorts you wore first year. Ouch.

Also, remind me to send you information about two local Nashville runners who are from Seattle. One is a recent Vanderbilt alumnus. Both live near you.