“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” William James
My first post since my Boston qualification in Vancouver. The journey continues and I keep learning more about running, myself and life every week. My main lessons since then are about unpredictability, perseverance and belief. Metaphorically speaking, they were all brought by the wind (I’m writing this from Chicago), that continues to remind me about the essence of life.
After Vancouver I set the goal of breaking the 3 hour mark in the Chicago Marathon (Oct 7th, 2012). Since then the training has been rocky: full of tail winds but also with many character building head winds that kept testing my character, perseverance and will. First it was just a light breeze when I faced a sheer lack of motivation to get the training cycle started again. Then came a small injury. That period was followed by a few amazing weeks where my groove was back again and I was about to conquer the world … until it all ended with a bonk at the San Diego Half Marathon and with my legs giving up on me 2 weeks ago on a long run (so heavy that I couldn’t even get my HR up). Then, magically, the wind changed again and I just finished today today the Chicago Half Marathon with a PR of 1h:25m:08s, after an amazing 22 mile long run last Sunday.
The turning point: my coach Ian telling me to do hill repeats (a really hard workout) and not give up on them (I would certainly feel like it half way) to see if things got kick started again. They did and putting things in perspective it was all another big lesson and test.
Embrace it. Most things in life are outside your control. The only thing you have control over is your reactions. The wind just turned on you? Embrace it, don’t fight it, do your best. It will change direction again. Guaranteed. I constantly need to remind myself of this. I love to have perfect conditions (who doesn’t) to run in, to work in, to play in. The fact: they rarely happen. So why make my life miserable instead of just accepting things as they are and being happy about doing the best that I can? Live in the moment, things happen for a reason. Head winds make you stronger, test your patience and build character. Always do your best preparing for any circumstance and stop fighting what you can not control. I love this parable to remind me to never question if I should be happy or upset:
A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away. All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”
A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses. The man and his son corraled all 21 horses. All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”
One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs. All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”
The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted. All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”
Perseverance=Dedication+Diligence+Determination+Drive.The key to success. In its most powerful form it comes disguised as obsession. This is what Ian was trying to get me to when he told me to go fight those hills. With enough perseverance you will find your second wind. And third, forth, fifth …..
Excerpt from The Energies of Men by William James, 1907.
“The existence of reservoirs of energy that habitually are not tapped is most familiar to us in the phenomenon of ‘second wind.’ Ordinarily we stop when we meet the first effective layer, so to call it, of fatigue. We have then walked, played, or worked ‘enough,’ and desist. That amount of fatigue is an efficacious obstruction, on this side of which our usual life is cast. But if an unusual necessity forces us to press onward, a surprising thing occurs. The fatigue gets worse up to a certain critical point, when gradually or suddenly it passes away, and we are fresher than before. We have evidently tapped a level of new energy, masked until then by the fatigue-obstacle usually obeyed. There may be layer after layer of this experience. A third and a fourth ‘wind’ may supervene. Mental activity shows the phenomenon as well as physical, and in exceptional cases we may find, beyond the very extremity of fatigue-distress, amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to own, sources of strength habitually not taxed at all, because habitually we never push through the obstruction, never pass those early critical points.”
The underlying pillar of all accomplishments. In its most concentrated form, faith. The kryptonite of fear. If you believe in yourself, in the fact that conditions change, in the fact that some days (and weeks and years) will be better than others, there is little that you won’t be able to accomplish. In running it is believing that one of your best runs can follow one of your worse and accepting that one of your best can also be followed by one of your worse. Always remember that improving requires patience and faith.
“We exorcise the demons by moving forward.” – Ian Torrence
So, are you courageous enough to go find your second wind?