What's Your Thing
Published on 04/4/2018
“Damn,” I said to myself as I stopped at a park bench on an early-morning, easy run/walk, and proceeded to take off my race belt, look at my insulin pump and dig out some Clif Bloks. “Can’t I just enjoy an uninterrupted workout without going low? Is that too much to ask for? I hate dealing with this S%&$T.”
Why, after 35 years of being a Type 1 diabetic, do I still complain when I go low during workouts or have unexplained highs or lows for no reason? I will never know.
I recently saw a quote that said, “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.” I thought about it for a minute and then in my head added the words, about your life to the end of that sentence. When I read it again with that addition, I instantly knew I was miserably guilty of the latter. I bash everything about me. From how I look in running tights, to how slow I run, to the unluckiness of being Type 1. Now, I know I’m not the only person in the world who, on occasion, self-deprecates. I’m sure most people, at one time or another, ponder their running (and life) short-comings and have the thought cross their minds, “Why me?”
Well, according to my mom, in her direct, tough-love answer to my adult complaints about various things, “Because life isn’t fair.”
Look, many things in life are random, and out of your control. Instead of wishing that things were different, make changes if possible, or accept the circumstances of your life as they are. Things are what they are. Remember, whatever your beliefs, the universe has put you here for some reason. So, the first principle that I found in trying to become a happier runner and person, is do whatever feels right. Show up and play your part. OK, so I’m a back-of-the-pack runner. Maybe my part is to connect with new runners and celebrate their accomplishment of finishing their first 5K or running 10 minutes without stopping.
Another idea for fulfilling your running and life is the idea of looking at your bucket list. We all talk of doing all kinds of crazy stuff - hiking the canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim, running an ultra, completing an Ironman race, skydiving, starting a business, the list is endless. If the answer to, “Why haven’t you done those things,” is “It’s hard,” well, I hate to break it to you, but life can be hard at times. Don’t shy away from hard things. Train yourself to become a person that can endure difficulties. Physically and mentally.
Next, don’t let the risk of failure hold you back. You may not achieve your goal, but that’s not a reason not to give it a try. This is a hard one for me to swallow, as I did not achieve my goal of completing my Ironman race after training a year for it. I missed the last bike cut-off time in Ironman Arizona. At the time, I was devastated and heartbroken. Did I attempt another one? No, but I embraced swimming for several years, which I came to love while training for that Ironman race. Admittedly, I still need to work on not letting the fear of failure paralyze me. I need to jump and take the plunge.
And while I stand on the edge, waiting to jump, I need to remember the principle that time is the most valuable resource we, as humans, have. Why do we all spend our time frivolously, as if we have an unlimited supply of it? Be more selective with your time. Stop saying, “I’ll run a marathon someday.” Pick one six months from now, research training programs and make it happen. Once you spend time, it’s lost forever.
Finally, don’t forget that life moves in one direction. When you live in the past, you become trapped in the “why” mode. You are always thinking about why things happened. Why did I become diabetic? Why did that running injury happen to me? Why did I not qualify for Boston in my last race? It’s a recipe for unhappiness. If you live in the future, you live in “what if” mode. What if I am not able to run 20 miles next weekend? What if, what if, what if? It causes anxiety and can result in a timid life.
“Oh, good,” I thought. Only three beeps, not four. My legs don’t feel like 10-ton weights and I can think clearly again. My blood sugar must be coming back up.
As I finish up my run I think to myself, “I am lucky to be able to run. And my running tights make my legs look lean and strong today!” Everybody has some kind of issue to deal with, a “thing” to work on. The secret is how you deal with it. Choose to be happy.