As I write this, I can feel my IT band screaming, and there’s a sensitive spot on my left foot that I think is frostbite, a reminder that perhaps I over-iced yesterday, slightly panicked that I may be getting a touch of plantar fasciitis (please let it not be so). I’m concerned about the half marathon coming up next weekend. I’ve just turned in my final paper for this quarter, and I’m frustrated that I’ve not written a haiku in days.
Funny how life turns out. Last year at this time, I wasn’t running or writing psychotherapy papers or penning haiku. I wasn’t even thinking about such things. Now, I can’t imagine life without any of these activities.
Last weekend I ran the Fairhaven Runners Waterfront 15K. I placed second in my age group. About a month earlier, I entered a 5K race/fundraiser for Alzheimer’s, Miles for Memories. I finished first overall in the women’s division.
I did not set out to be a racer. I certainly did not set out to run fast or to finish anywhere near the front of the pack. I don’t start a race thinking about how I am going to finish, just that I hope I will finish and that I want to enjoy the run. Now that I’ve had some success with running, I’m beginning to second-guess myself. Whereas I used to just get up in the morning and go for a run, now I wonder if I should go long or short, fast or slow, run hills or flat? Should I ice or soak in Epsom salts? Will taking a day off now hurt or help me in my next event? Am I a poser?
Recently I find myself pondering that place between unconsciousness and deliberation, between being ignorantly blissful (or blissfully ignorant) and calculating. I know I compare writing and running quite often, but again, I find the similarities enlightening. At the beginning of this year, I started writing haikus with abandon. I traded them back and forth with friends, posted them to the Haiku Room on Facebook and just enjoyed the experience. Until I started getting attention for them. Then I started overthinking and performing, writing haikus for an audience, and that’s when my haiku writing came to a halt. I got stuck. I became too aware.
Now, I fear the same thing happening with running. I want to just run, but at the same time, I am extremely proud of my accomplishments. And, I have to say, I totally dig winning medals and ribbons, but I don’t want running to be just about that. I want my running to be about health and happiness, connection and community.
I want to go about life consciously, full of awareness, and making good choices, but what happens when that awareness interferes with spontaneity? When overthinking causes indecision and indecision results in immobility? How can we strike a balance and just run happy?