How do you explain an inexplicable performance? What made my race at the 2018 Snowshoe National Championships so different, besides the fact that physically I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in?
There’s no doubt that physical performance is inextricably linked to the way we think about ourselves and our circumstances. Often we think of relentlessness or determination, courage or ‘heart.’ We hear of people digging deep, overcoming setbacks, never giving up. But what about Joy?
Finding Joy in the Circumstances
My attitude going in was relaxed, I had no expectations and only loosely formed goals. I knew that the weather and course conditions would be so variable and difficult, so I’d already accepted that it would be really hard, that there would be things I would not be able to control. Letting go of the uncontrollable factors in a race or major performance frees your mind up for other emotions. There’s only a few things we can control and the weather on race day is certainly not one of them.
Instead my mind settled on enjoyment. I just wanted to have fun with whatever was out there even if it was hard.
Find Joy in the Competition
I’d only raced twice all winter and on both occasions I was the only woman up in front. Most of my running was grinding away in the dark and early mornings, logging unseen miles. I love the journey to the race as much as the race itself, if not more, but sometimes it can be lonely. If you don’t have a regular training partner or group runs it can be a little monotonous. I was looking forward to seeing and running with women that I admire. If you’re out there running with other people who are better than you, then as a by product you will start to get better. And there’s a lot of joy in becoming better at something you love.
Finding Joy Inspite of Doubt
So what does that mean for other races? Races where I do have expectations and goals? Races where the voice of doubt is louder and the enjoyment seems lessened? One of the things I’m learning lately is that instead of dismissing doubt or suppressing it, to be curious about it and find out what it is teaching me about myself. If I believe that my doubt can teach me something and lead me to be a better version of myself, can’t there be joy in that discovery? Joy in becoming the person I was meant to be?
One of the things that I love about running is that it pushes me to my limits physically AND emotionally. I’ve learned more about myself, processed more emotions and become a better version of myself through running, because running brings me to the end of myself. I can be exhausted, doubtful, cold, tired and afraid but still be moving forward and a few strides later I can find something inside myself: strength, courage, confidence and joy to keep moving forward.
Do you find joy in running? Have there been times when you’ve raced with joy? What happens when you haven’t found enjoyment in your racing or running?
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