Finding gratitude

My legs felt heavy, like they weren’t quite turning over fast enough for a light jog let alone for a sprint. Of course, part of that was my fault — I ran the first two 1,000-meter intervals way too fast. That wasn’t the plan. I’m still learning the nuances of speed work and since we were on the road instead of a track in a the pre-dawn darkness, checking my watch for split times would have been difficult anyway.

I wasn’t sure I’d make that fifth and final interval. But of course, I did. It was my slowest of the day — a bit backward from how the intervals should be run — but it was still within the time frame of my workout instructions.

Speed workouts can be brutal. I was wiped out for the rest of the day from the effort. Contributing to my sluggishness was a mild level panic of  packing for the 70.3 in Texas next weekend (next weekend already?) combined with disappointments in my work life.

Then I tuned into my world of social networking and found two interesting messages from friends which started to unpack some of that brain clutter.

First on Twitter, my friend Elizabeth posted “being a runner is hard & there will be a lot of work. had thoughts of giving up … decided against it, gonna keep working.”

Elizabeth writes her own blog, Grazing Through Life One Day at a Time, about her journey to eating better, exercising more and generally getting healthy both in mind and body. I love her honesty and I identify with her struggle.

And I certainly could relate to her tweet.

Yes, running is hard.

It took me back to when I first started running, before I decided to try the world of triathlon. I wanted to try running but never felt like I could so I tried a walk-to-run program. The feeling of having run for five continuous minutes at the start of my day … well, changed my attitude for the day. Bring it world. I just ran this morning.

The ante gets upped the more you run and sometimes that feeling of confidence isn’t as pronounced as it used to be. Perhaps that’s introspection for another day.

But getting out of your comfort zone and sticking with the hard — there’s not just life lessons in that but joy.

On to Facebook where my friend Belinda sent me a message about her marathon training and her attempts to qualify for Boston.

She was in that clutter space, having that kind of day where doing something you loved just felt crappy. And there’s no worse feeling than having something you adore turn into drudge work, even for one day.

But then, she had her perspective changed later that day when she sadly witnessed an elderly woman get hit by a car. The sounds stayed with her all day and suddenly she felt blessed for having her lousy morning. She was going to do her run the next day with a different sense of joy — running with gusto because, well, because she could run. She had that opportunity.

So many times we forget about gratitude.

It’s become a buzz word in the holistic health genre of literature and thinking — and the notion of starting your day with gratitude sounds appealing on one level and artificial on another.

But maybe that’s the best way to clear the clutter in my head — by focusing on what I love as opposed to what I loathe. After all, I’m told that what we focus on grows, so if I focus on the things I don’t want, more of that will come my way, even as I wish it weren’t so.

What is there to love about today? I get to swim. I get to teach. I get to have dinner with a group of great friends.

The crappy stuff on my to-do list? It will get done, but won’t be the focus of my day.

There are comfort zones to step out of and workouts to approach with gusto.

Because I can.

And it makes me happy.

And for that, I’m filled with gratitude.

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