Running vs. Racing – Pleasure or Prowess

When I tell people I am a runner, they often seem to immediately assume that I am fast.  And for some reason, I am always quick to jump in and tell them just how not-fast I am. I plod along comfortably, breathing easy, taking in the world around me, and simply enjoying the movement of my body through space.

I think my explaining stems from the desire to let everyone know “yes, you can run, too” regardless of speed, just setting foot outside your door is wonderful, healthy, and it can be fun! For years I hated running.  Until my first high school cross-country meet, the fastest mile I ever ran was an 8:30 min/mile pace set when running one mile in third grade.  The faster mile I ran in cross-country was the first of a 5K race; Mile one was 7 minutes, Mile two was 10 minutes, and mile three was 13 minutes.  No consistency, and I certainly started that out too fast.  I have yet to meet the third grade pace and maintain it for over a mile.

I am not one of those runners who checks their pace on their wrist to see if each mile is coming in at the same pace.  I run by feel. If I am out of breath, starting to heel strike, or feeling uncomfortable, I know I need to slow down to be able to maintain energy levels for longevity.  My goal has not ever been to race.  It is to relax, keep moving, and enjoy…

The more running literature I read – blogs, articles, books – and conversations I have with other runners, I learn that I have a very different perspective than my peers.  In fact, I would call it an extremely abnormal point of view and desired outcome for Races I enter.

Sometimes I wonder, am I just content to be running at the same pace indefinitely?  Is there anything wrong with that?  

Could it be that I do not have the motivation that others feel driving them to accelerate?  Or that I’m missing some gene that makes you want to push yourself?  I will admit, there have been only a few times that I have really pushed myself – and neither of those times was during the Marathon I ran last year.  Yes that was hard, and I ran a whole marathon distance of 26.2 miles, but as far as speed is concerned… I kept it easy.  I pushed myself to pass other racers in the last half mile stretch of the Pints to Pasta race a couple of years ago, and that was fun!

I guess, overall, I have never really attempted to race.  Not against myself or other racers.  Perhaps my delight in the well-known, comfortable easy pace is partially due to my hesitation to step foot into the unknown.  What if I lose my stride, and start to heel-strike, again?  What if I injure myself?  

What if… I CAN go faster?

What would that be like?

One of my greatest fears – throughout my entire life – has been succeeding.  Doing something well enough that other people notice.  Raising expectations.  Being authentic.  Being vulnerable.  Letting myself be seen, heard, and known.  So, I have always done well – but never really allowed myself to excel – at anything.  I stop before I move beyond good to really good.

I love dancing, and shortly after moving to Portland, I got quickly immersed in West Coast Swing and Blues – getting to the point where I taught a “Mini” Blues lesson (after knowing the dance for only three months!).  Less than two years later, I stopped going dancing.

I also love singing, and recently took lessons with some amazing teachers at the Transformational Voice Institute, and I have learned SO much, improved greatly, and then abruptly stopped taking lessons – and have not pursued any other singing venues since.

Now, I run.  A solo activity.  Running at my pace, there will be no comparisons with other runners.  I’m not fast enough to really compete.  I do truly enjoy getting out each day to do my duty pounding the pavement – my movement meditation, but I wonder if running is now my activity to help me hide from my other great loves, desires, heart callings by easily making it priority over the others.  What would my life be like if I could make time for all of these wonderful activities?

Do you find yourself choosing one activity over another that really calls to you?
How do you decide which to prioritize?

Tomorrow I have another five miles in the morning … Meeting a friend super early on the other side of the river, so I am off to bed before midnight for the first time in a week!  (If I were out dancing, I would not be home until after midnight – West Coast Swing Wednesdays go late!).

Please, have courage to do what you love with gusto.  Feed your heart and your spirit with joy, and allow yourself to succeed!  This is SO important. To being authentic…!

with joy and heart,
~Alaina

Day 11: Challenges in Daily Writing and Thoughts on Fear

Not two weeks into NaBloPoMo, my drive to write is waning.  Last night, exhausted after a long weekend of catch-up after a week of travel out of the country, I decided sleep was more important than posting.  I had actually started a post, and neglected finishing my thoughts.

… and I’ve been thinking about this with a little regret all day long.

I chose to join NaBloPoMo, and commit to writing everyday on my blog for a simple 30 days, and I didn’t take the time to sit for ten minutes and get some words on ‘paper’?  I admit, I was disappointed in myself for not keeping the schedule.

Throughout my life, I have eagerly committed to projects, groups, activities, and often found myself … slacking, letting go, giving up half-way through these projects due to lack of interest, frustration, or… fear.  Fear of doing something wrong, making something look bad, or worse, becoming visible to the rest of the world and possibly being rejected. 

I admit, this is going a little deeper than a miss on a blog post, but hear me out.  I am literally dying inside to paint.  The urge and need and desire to use water and a brush to make something beautiful on paper is slowly tightening its choke hold around my neck, and I fear if I do not soon grab a brush and just go for it my larynx will be crushed and I will suffocate.  But the cold, heart-stopping, hand-stilling fear keeps me from even trying to paint.

It is an irrational fear.  Excepting me, no one will see these paintings, at least for now.  There is absolutely noting to be afraid of but fear itself.  The feeling is difficult to work through, and understandably keeps many of us from really trying to dance, sing, go for that dream job, or simply paint.

The thing we must learn is that by waiting, postponing, not doing these activities that we desire (that very likely will bring us great joy – or a great lesson), we put off learning more about our own nature, and allowing ourselves to fully embrace who we are in this moment, denying ourselves happiness.

To be perfectly honest, I have no fear about sharing my thoughts with you, the reader of alwayslovinglife.com, and I am happy to be able to say what I need to, for my own growth as an individual and a writer.  Blogging is not scary for me.  Here I am, putting myself out for the world to read and judge (if they can find me), and this does not give me cause for pause at all.  But sitting down with a brush and a pad of paper alone can almost cause my teeth to chatter in cold, hard fear.

I think that these feelings can be a good compass.  When we feel irrationally fearful of something that we desire, it shows us the degree to which it matters to our heart, the level to which we will feel rejected if our art/song/words/thoughts/choreographed dance are not accepted by others.

So, on this day, Monday the eleventh of November, 2013, I vow to paint before the end of the month.  I also vow to complete a blog post each day this month because these things matter to me, can cause a little fearfulness, and in their doing, hopefully, will always bring great joy.

What has your fear kept you from accomplishing?

with joy,
~Alaina