Something like an enormous weight coupled with an inescapable cabin fever has consumed me. Lately, I find myself spent before I even get to the start line. At the end of every day, I’m left feeling exhausted, behind, yet unable to sleep for fear that the wave of responsibility and incomplete chores might decide to crash down on me at any moment.
Some of this I know is that I have a four-year-old (nearly five) in my charge. Whether it’s the constant and considerable messes I’m cleaning or his demand for attention I’m servicing, it sometimes feels likeI’m pushing an enormous burden up a very steep hill. So when I look at my haggard mug in the mirror I am not surprised by the image squinting back at me.
The back injury I experienced almost a year ago hasn’t helped and hasn’t gotten completely better either. I suspect much of that comes from the slight limp I’m saddled with. Added to this I’ve gained more weight, pretending I’ll be as active as I once was while eating as if I still ran forty miles a week.
Along with my own creeping dread comes the realization that I need to change things up before it really is too late. Last night, when I could have been wasting my own precious time playing video games or reading I laced up and set out into the rain for a walk in the dark. Not much, not fast. Nonetheless, a new beginning.
Some of you might be wondering why I imagine that going for a walk in the rain might be anything other than a complete waste of my already limited energy. Why I wouldn’t rather invest that time, effort and money into psychotherapy or visits to the physical therapist. Statistically, you might be right on the money. Well adjusted people all around me, who seemingly have their shit together, take the conventional route to health and wholeness.
You can’t climb up to the second floor without a ladder. When you set your aim too high and don’t fulfill it, then your enthusiasm turns to bitterness. Try for a goal that’s reasonable, and then gradually raise it. — Emil Zatopek
The rub? The best times of my life — those moments when everything came together, when I experienced moments of clarity or content, when my shit seemed unshakable — those times were realized from on top of a bedrock composed of many steps. Running and walking treats my body, mind and spirit all at the same time. It’s a sure-fire way for me to enter into that three-way flow state that I’m craving and can’t otherwise achieve.
So, new program. Get out there.
Don’t get me started on all the races I’d love to enter. I recently came across a 255 km multi-stage foot race in Iceland that gets my juices flowing. I see these people doing this fringe activity and I’m fixated. Grand-to-Grand, PCT, Fire+Ice — all these are on my bucket list. And the truth is that they’re all going to remain there for some time. I’ve got to choose closer goals, much closer.
- Right now my first and most pressing goal is to figure out how to integrate daily distance into my already committed calender. I suspect that pushing Aral around in the bulki may be a thing of the past, so I’ve got to figure out how to get miles in those spaces where he is otherwise occupied … and still have the energy to meet his needs.Given my existing routine, I’ve got two potential windows on most days. First, between 9:00 and 13:00 daily while he’s at school. Second, after he’s in bed and asleep. The early window is often consumed by writing, but I may cut back, at least for the time being, in order to reach for a weekly goal of 30 miles. Screw NaNo I guess.During the second window, I’m not usually writing, but I’m going to have to pace myself through the day to reach it and still have the moxie necessary to get out on the trail. I’ve got to do this, during the winter months, while maintaining my own basic health and fending off infection.
- I need to get back to writing sports in space. Yeah, you read that right. Mutually reinforcing activities build upon one another. Sort of a looping definition. Here’s the thing, I want to get excited about this and stay that way … for a very long time. I know I feel excitement about the stories I write so why not have those be my story.
- Without question, I need to get my gear organized. During last night’s walk, I had a growing anxiety that the batteries in my headlamp were going to die. There are no street lamps on the island, let alone in the forest, and it was wilderness-dark under the cover of those madrona trees, cave dark under the Douglas Fir. Fortunately for me, nothing died. I know that while on the trail we’re often walking along a narrow edge, so many things can go wrong, and when they do they tend to transform into cascade events.Since we moved to Vashon, I haven’t spent any time organizing my stuff. Some of it is still boxed. I don’t know where my GPS watch is and doubt that it’s charged. Shoes are stowed in the garage. All this has got to change if I hope to experience any success.
- I need to target getting consistent about trail time. Thirty miles a week, with no additional caveats. Just get them, any way possible. Once this is again habitual I can look at changing things up. Speeding things up or adding miles. But for now the goal is consistency.
- Finally, I need to record this journey. When I started this blog it was after years of writing about little more than running in Eastern Washington. We’d recently moved from that home to Colorado and at the time WordPress did not allow blog renaming (do they these days?) so I started feetforbrains because I needed a place to keep track of that part of my life. It helps to write it down.This place has a good following, and honestly, I don’t know if this is because of my science fiction or the writing about running. My hope is that they’re not mutually exclusive.
Perhaps a bit early to talk about rewards, but I’m going to keep it simple. I know I’m going to need something to look forward to so, once I’ve met or exceeded the previous goals, I’m going to give myself something to look forward to.
At this point I’m really uncertain what this is going to be, I’ve got to think about what, other than the siren song of the trail, is going to motivate me.