Even if doesn’t look that way, this is not a post about fitness, in fact, this mark is very unimpressive for those athletes that are used to run a kilometer (and yeah, I am sorry for you, imperial readers, but this is a metric post) under 5 minutes, but I am not one of those, not yet. Is not a round nice number like the 8 km in an hour that I was aiming for. However, there was something interesting in this, at least from me.
A bit of context. About three months ago I decided to start walking/jogging/running at least three times a week. The goal was to have a time space to reflect and calm myself in the middle of my usual days. Unlike any other exercise, walking/jogging/running allows me to put my headphones and disconnect from the world and my thoughts for while. Get into a zen like state through the rhythm of my steps, my breath and the music. When I started, overweighted and dragging years of smoking between 20 and 30 cigarettes per day, I was able to walk 5.4 km in an hour. Around June 15th I was starting to feel more fit and loosed some weight and I was able to do the same 5.4 Km in 52 minutes, basically took off 10 minutes at the same distance.
At some point I started to try periodically, as a way to check my progress, how much distance I could do in an hour (which is a lot more fun that just taking time off the same distance). In those tries I was seeing some progress, first at 6 km, then 7.18 km and finally, this recent one.
I was totally convinced that I was able to pull the 8 km in an hour. In hindsight, I am not sure why, but I was. This months I realized that as important as how your body feel at the time of running, is how your mind and emotions that define how well you will do it. At the beginning I thought that the more things I got going through my head, the better I ran, however later I realized that even without too much stress, and even happy, I could do as good if not better.
But this past Friday, before my latest attempt at the hour, my emotional state was the worst on months. Hundreds of troubling thoughts and feelings crossed my mind, and instead of blocking then running, I was simply stopped. I could not run anymore, just like…
Despite that, and despite still not feeling emotionally fine, on Monday I had a good sessions (which is normal after 2-day rest) so, by the next day I was going for the 8 km in an hour. I was sure I could easily do it, that all that internal turmoil was going to fuel me instead of blocking me.
So I started the chase of the 8 km, sure that I was going to make it. But as the time passed I started to realize that I was not keeping the necessary rhythm, at first I took it calmly, thinking that the natural progression will put me on par, and by the time I realized that I was behind, in the last 15 minutes, it was too late, even as I tried a last push, that was nullified by the worn out of the run. Bottom line, I only got to 7.77 km in 60 minutes.
At that time I felt disappointed and frustrated for not being able to achieve my goal. This is unsurprising given that I still hate to lose, even with my own expectations. After thinking more calmly about it, I concluded that I had nothing to blame myself for, and that I should be happy to break my personal record. As common place as it reads, I think that you should give your best effort, put your heart into something and believe in it, without fear. The results may vary and not be what you expected or wanted to be. Sometimes the timing is not right, sometimes the circumstances stack against your wishes and, many times, we became our worst enemies. Also, you must not fail in the trap of being to conservative about your effort, saving something for later were that may be too late, that could be as counterproductive as rushing all in at the beginning.
At the end, what matters is that you give your best shot at it and feel at peace about it, and if it is not peace what you feel but frustration, sadness, anxiety or any not so positive feeling, that’s ok too, don’t try to run and hide from those feelings because they are part of our life and what define us. Instead try to use that in your next try, because you need to keep trying.
Meanwhile, maybe I didn’t reach the 8 km mark this time, but 7.77 has a good ring about it, and it’s better than 6.66 (and a lot better than 5.4).