This morning I set out for my AM run without a specific plan for where I was headed, or for how far I was going to go, and it didn’t take long for me to remember that when you’re running without a destination, it is really hard to stay motivated.
Having a plan is important because it helps us to pace ourselves, to run with purpose, and to recognize all those really important mile-markers along the way. But it can also be hard to have a plan when you’re running in a brand new city, when you’re navigating unfamiliar terrain.
I was lamenting to a friend on the phone last night that I sometimes feel like that about this trip. I think about writing a book, or launching a ‘career’ as a writer, and feel totally overwhelmed because it is so unlike anything I have ever done. How am I supposed to make a plan when I can’t conceptualize what is coming? I don’t even know where to begin!
By the time I hit the four-mile mark I was feeling pretty unmotivated and tired, when all of a sudden the gentle drizzle that had been cooling the morning turned into a torrential downpour. It was the kind of downpour that makes you feel like the sky might cave in. Within minutes I was tired and cold and wet and thinking: this was definitely not part of the plan.
I started the steep incline – up, up, up – back into the city and I wanted to quit. I told myself to breathe. I listened to the distinct sound of my feet as they hit the pavement. And just when I thought I couldn’t run one uphill for one more step, I reached into that secret reserve of energy inside me – that ‘emergency’ reserve that each of us has – and held on just long enough for the hill crest.
There have been moments on this trip that have felt a bit like running uphill, moments where anger or disappointment or hunger or lack of sleep made us feel like giving up. But the thing I am learning about running and life (and relationships and launching careers and Packing Light) is that there will inevitably be moments when we want to give up, and that those moments teach us what it means—and how rewarding it is—to dig deep.
After the hill crested and I dropped back into the city of Omaha this morning, I felt that sigh of relief that always comes with downhill. The rain had subsided and I watched as the sun sat up under the low horizon and the cloud cover scooted away. It was still Omaha, but it was actually kind of beautiful.
The best part about digging deep is that it always meets us with reward on the other side.