Two more minutes into a repetition at 85% max heart rate.
This sounds like a portion of a mathematical problem or a book on anatomy. It’s not. It was two more minutes of pulling myself through an agonizing repetition that felt like an eternity. I’m not extraordinarily fast nor am I a particularly gifted runner. The purpose of my training sessions are usually a matter of self-preservation. I race to stay motivated (having a goal other than “staying fit” helps during the “lazy days”) and I simply don’t want to walk in my next race.
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My legs felt heavy and I cursed my doctor for telling me not to run for the past two weeks (that’s another story). I told myself “Don’t let go,” with reference to the pace I was holding. Then it hit me, I had a new mantra.
My current one is “Crystal clear” (in memoriam of a good friend who died of cancer and whose favorite line had been: The bluest sky is infinitely high and crystal clear). I chose a three-syllable phrase to use during speed workouts to match my breathing pattern (a breathing technique I learned from a book). And “Don’t let go,” just suddenly fit the bill. So I held on to it while reminding myself to keep my shoulders down as I rounded the track. I resisted the urge to look at how many more minutes or seconds I had to keep going.
“Don’t let go,” I silently muttered repetitively and time seemed to just erase itself. My stop watch finally signaled salvation. I slowed down to an easy pace and smiled. I didn’t break any world records this morning but I felt content that I managed to finish that first rep. The succeeding ones weren’t as groggy or as difficult.
Difficulty is something we tend to avoid. If something is too exacting, it’s always easier to take another route. As an engineer, I’ve been academically programmed to simplify things: formulae, circuits, solutions, and explanations. But I’ve learned that to get to the fundamental answer, you’ve got to go through steps. Some, if not most, of which could be complex (and involving even more steps). Even the basic Newtonian equation of F = ma requires some differential and integral calculus for validation. Even something as simple as a childhood dream could prove to be a daunting thing to achieve. I sometimes ask myself “What am I doing with my life?”.
I am, quite simply, pursuing a dream. And today’s run re-affirmed a quote my father once shared: Dreams take time, patience, sustained effort, a willingness to fail, if they are ever to be anything more than dreams. (Bryan Linkoski)