So it looks like, just maybe, the Arctic weather is finally leaving us, and by the time we’re actually in official British Summer Time, we might get a glimmer of Spring… by which, obviously, I mean torrential rain. But at least the temperature should be in double digits.
The snow and ice has disrupted a lot of racing this winter, and many runners faced disappointment last weekend because of cancelled events. On Friday, the Coventry Half organisers pulled the race scheduled for Sunday, so I pounded it a rough approximation of the route anyway. The cancellation was a shame, but a good decision, as we had a decent layer of snow, blizzards all over the weekend, and plenty of ice and slush on the roads.
I can’t say it was the funnest 13.1 miles I’ve ever run, but I was satisfied to get it done—and as an extra bonus, it was really nice surprise when the event organisers told us later this week that everyone who did the miles could still claim their medal!
The combination of dark mornings and evenings, freezing temperatures and unsafe road conditions has meant a general hiatus in training for many, and once again I’m glad that I made the decision to run daily, no matter what, or I would have been put off countless times in recent weeks. This may seem like a weird response. Oh yeah, loads of people have scaled back on running outdoors because of the dreadful conditions, so I’m super psyched to be completely ignoring all these natural indicators and ploughing ahead regardless…
And yet, it’s true.
It’s really important to know your context, and act appropriately to the season of your life. There are times when you need to reassess where you’re investing your energy. If your family is facing a major crisis, or one of your children suddenly needs a ton of additional support, it may not be a brilliant moment to take a promotion at work, for example. If you’re studying for a qualification or completing a Masters alongside your day job, it may not be wise just now to buy an expensive gym membership, which compels you to work out every evening for two hours in order to see a good return on your annual fee.
But the season for your life is not necessarily dictated by the natural seasons you experience around you, and the messages you get from your environment aren’t always reliable. So if, say, you’re trying to change the way you eat, your stomach may be sending you some extremely loud hints (possibly even audible to those nearby) about when it feels you should be eating next. But you ignore that message, and override it with a mental instruction based on a longer-term decision you made.
I run every day for a number of reasons. One of them is simply the desire to fulfil my internal personal commitment to doing so. I want to know that every single day I have consistently done something which requires effort, discipline and energy.
Because it requires these things, you might feel I’m imposing upon myself something which sucks that energy and effort away from other parts of my life—you know, important stuff. Stuff which requires my investment, and is way more important than just pounding out a few miles along the pavement.
Stuff like caring for my four children: their lives, their education, their emotional and spiritual growth, their friendships and activities. My own development, or my marriage, or my wider family and friends, my input to the community. Or even my job! (Being a self employed freelance editor and writer does occasionally require trying to find stuff to write and edit…)
But what I’ve discovered as an unintended, unexpected side effect of daily running is that I’ve had to face the truth: if I can do this, I can do that.
I know that I can get out of bed every day, get into running gear, and go for a run. No matter how complex my schedule, how tired I feel, or what a tough day yesterday may have been, I can always manage a run. (It may just be a little one, but a run’s a run, right?)
And if I can do this, then I can do that. That other stuff. The stuff that sometimes feels way beyond me. The stuff that makes me want to pull the duvet over my head.
The school trip letters, and the insurance renewal, and the talk to the teacher about confusing homework, and the admitting to the orthodontist about a lost retainer, and the awkward client meeting, and the grocery shopping, and the chasing of an invoice, and the tricky conversation with a teen about social media…
…and everything other difficult thing I’d ideally like to avoid until it’s sunny again, and the days are longer, and we’re all back in our flip flops. The cold rainy winter bits of life which require effort, discipline, and energy.
I know I can do these things because I’m equipped. Just like my physical core is built to help me run, my internal self is continually strengthened to be able to do all this stuff, with help and support from my husband and my community. And in case I ever forget that I’m capable, I get a daily reminder.
I can run every day.
Running streak total today is 450 days, 1857 miles. #runeveryday