We stood in the parking lot, sweating. The entire area was under heat advisory. My arms and legs were shiny from sunscreen and bug spray. We were discussing the route: mostly all uphill until we would check out the lakes and then turn around. The air was heavy; it was hot – damp puddles forming on the ground, where we were standing, sweat dripping off our bodies.
“Alright then, let’s get this started!”
We began running into the woods and up the trail.
When you are out, in the street or on a trail, you create a lot of the struggle yourself. You decide to go, when there is a particular weather. It is about the temperature, but also the air quality and whether it is snowing or raining. You pick a route that has a certain length, terrain or elevation profile.
You decide on the gear you bring and the clothes to wear — maybe just right or way too warm. You controlled how much you tried to rest and you decided what you put into your stomach beforehand and how much food or water you bring with you.
When you are out, you decide how fast you go, how much you push yourself, how long you actually try to stay out and how much you eat and hydrate. Causes have effects. A lot of the hardship is in your control. It is an outcome of your own decisions and actions.
Of course, this is not unique to running.
The work you do, how and what you study, the decisions you make about food and exercise, the things you do in your free time, how you occupy your mind, and so forth.
You are a common factor in all of it. It stands to reason that you have a big impact on your experience of it, on how easy or difficult you find it, how much you struggle.
It can often be difficult to see, when you are in the midst of it, but it is worth examining.
I pushed myself. It felt like just the right thing to do on this evening, after a long day at work. I worked out to silence and I was fortunate to do so in the company of friends.
To push means to struggle. A good struggle often does mean growth and lessons learned. It is good to be able to control a lot of the variables that contribute to the learning. It is a personal path. You decide.
Some approaches make it more and others make it less difficult. Some paths offer more growth and others less. Not all of that is up to you, but some – often a lot – is.
There is important freedom in this.