This past summer, I did less running than I normally do. It was for reasons that I've written about here before. If I'm being honest, summer is not actually my favorite time of the year to train anyway. I usually train through the Winter in order to peak for races in spring. In fact, I had probably one of the best racing seasons ever this year with a solid effort in a prestigious 50-miler and a win in a 6-hour race. The thing about putting in the effort over the winter and then reaping the rewards in races is this: you kind of feel like you deserve a reward after it all. The extra slice of pizza or scoop of ice cream is almost obligatory and friends say, “hey, you run ultras, you'll burn it off.” While that statement may be true, it allows a sense of entitlement to set in, and that is not just evident in the running aspect of my life. Discipline and endurance go hand in hand. If I am training for a race, studying a particular subject, being a husband and parent, writing, or practicing my faith, I need to be disciplined and endure. The really difficult times for me are when I step away and let the bad habits set in. In the way that I gain a few extra kg's in the off-season, I can also slack off as a role model in my family by letting a thing or two slide. I don't notice it until I am trying to catch up and realize I am way out of shape. Any time my faith feels like I am carrying it and not it carrying me, it's usually because I have been slack in seeking God and not being patient when I feel He has abandoned me. “I want to have my cake and eat it too,” is the expression I guess.
I want the winning results in races without having to run 20 km before breakfast on a freezing December morning before work. I want to be the most awesome dad without having to set ground rules and police my kids all the time. I want to be husband of the year without having to sit down and talk through the tough stuff. Want, want, want. That is not how it works.
Last week I started to run again and it's tough! I feel that little extra weight. My local trails seem steeper than before and short runs feel like a suffer-fest.
As winter sets in and fog descends on the forest, I must persevere. I must get out the door and endure this period of form finding. For it is through grit and practice I will find the rewards.