Running teaches me so much about life. One of the greatest lessons I've taken from running is the value of persistence. We talk about discipline and marvel at it in world class athletes. I have friends and family who think that I'm very disciplined. Not the ones who really know me, just the ones looking in from the outside. Because I'm not that disciplined. I've learned tricks along the way to make me stay in the game, but discipline? Not this runner. I struggle just like everyone else, probably more than most. Persistence, on the other hand, should be my middle name. I am truly like that proverbial dog with a bone, I don't let it go until every ounce of goodness has been stripped from it and it lies forsaken in the grass. This character trait serves me well in running, particularly when I have weeks like the last one.
I've mentioned before about the community of people who are my support staff. http://jrichardsoriginals.blogspot.com/2011/05/it-takes-village.html They play such a pivotal role in my training. Last week, at a running clinic I've been attending conducted by my friend, Mary, we identified something that will probably be one of the most important issues I've ever addressed as a runner. It had to do with my running form. I know that the most effective foot strike is mid foot, with slightly bent knee. I've been doing that for years. Imagine my surprise, then, when I watched a video of myself running and I clearly landed on my heel, knee straight as a board. No wonder my hip bothers me so much!! So, since I thought I was landing mid foot all this time, but wasn't, how do I remedy that? How do I know how it feels to do it right? A short run the morning after the discovery wasn't particularly helpful. I was in my head the whole run, couldn't relax, and didn't know if I was doing it correctly or not. I was very discouraged, and I really let it wig me out. I'm a person who knows how to have a pity party on a large scale, so I threw myself one and didn't run the rest of the week.
Fortunately, I have a village of accountability partners who won't let me wallow in my pity. My husband, who I thank God for many times daily, reminded me that I can do this, it's just a matter of doing the work. He actually used something I had said a few minutes earlier about someone else not wanting to do the work it takes to become more Godly to urge me along. Hate it when he uses my words to bite me in the rear. But, it was effective. I also have a prayer warrior sister who takes the time to pray with me and for me when she knows I'm struggling. Thank God for family who understand, support, and encourage!
So, I got off the pity party bus and set about doing some research to see if I could decide how to make this easier. Part of why I love running so much is that I don't have to think about it, I can just let it flow while the voices in my head keep me company. I needed to get back to that. I finally found some research that recommends marching in place to help you understand how it feels to have the proper footstrike. I'm oversimplifying, I used Mary's advice as well as this to bring the proper form into play. This morning's run was wonderful! It was a short one (3 miles), but I maintained a very steady, easy pace which actually ended up being faster than I usually run the same distance. Even though I'm not currently working on speed, that's a nice little bonus. I'm not there, yet, but at least I'm on my way. I've always been Kenyan in my dreams, maybe this will help that become more of a reality. ;)
I think my point this morning is that discipline is simply about not giving up. I have set some rather lofty goals for myself for this year (and beyond) that I will never achieve if I let every set back discourage me. I have to dig down and find my inner dog sometimes, but she's there. Ready to take on the world and keep me plodding along.
I've probably used this passage before, but it's one of my favorites:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4 (emphasis mine)
Suffering and perseverance. Sounds like Paul was a runner.