I have been thinking a lot lately about keeping it simple.
I just finished an enlightening book by Martin Dugard called “To Be a Runner”. In addition to being a runner and author, he has spent the past several years as a high school running coach. Along with his tales of racing mishaps and the strategies he uses to provide the structure needed to mold young athletes, he describes in great detail the ongoing challenge he has personally faced over the years. Letting go.
He takes a profound look at the choices we make on a daily basis to overcome pain, discomfort and doubt in order to obtain the greater goal of simply going for it.
He contends that the endurance athlete is the biggest offender when it comes to making excuses and over thinking things. Excuse the pun, but who would have thought? I always imagine those men and women to be competitive by nature. Therefore, wouldn’t they be impervious to the lure of blowing off a workout or over complicating anything? Aren’t they all hard coded to “Just Do It”? According to him, apparently not. Sometimes the biggest struggle for runners is just getting out the door.
This came as a shock and a relief to me. When I trained for any race in the past, I could have written a screenplay with the ongoing dialogue that went though my head on a daily basis about what I should be doing and the potential consequences of not doing it right. All self imposed and believe me, if it ever made it to the big stage, it would have been one of those dark tragedies wrought with self-doubt and failure, followed by strife and a horrendously torturous death scene in the end. Not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Our inner critics can certainly be our worst enemies.
Martin is my hero and definitely my kind of runner. With all of the accolades he has received for races well run, he highlights his constant struggle to simplify the process and overcome his habit of focusing on the ‘shoulds’. He is consistently reminding himself to run for the right reasons and more importantly to just get out there.
Over the years he has changed his approach a great deal. On his daily runs, he purposefully chooses new paths, often weaving off course to seek out trails unexplored. He doesn’t wear a watch and never records miles. He simplifies the process so he can run for the sake of the experience and nothing else.
Running has been a short-lived passion of mine and due to knee issues it is no longer my exercise of choice. Even so, I still feel part of ‘the club’ so to speak, and I have decided to take his lesson to heart. Moving forward, I am going to strive to UNDER complicate and OVER enjoy everything I do.
After all, when you break it down to the basics, life as in running is really just about putting one foot in front of the other and getting out the door.
So each day, I will make the conscious choice to throw caution to the wind, lace up my virtual running shoes, take off the watch and hit the road less traveled.
I feel better already.