Running with purpose

The first half of the run was challenging. Sure it was an easy pace, based on effort not on a GPS watch, but it was dark and damp and straight into a head wind. But I kept my mind focused on the goal — run a steady, smart five miles. I got my tailwind for the second half of the run, felt great and polished it all off with a set of striders.

The great finish was in part a product of my steady start. I didn’t let my gremlins run away with thoughts of what I “should” be doing or heap on batches of guilt for not running hills this week, especially in light of the vast amounts of pie I ate on Thanksgiving. Instead, I let myself ease into my run, picking up my pace as I felt better and as weather conditions turned in my favor. I took what the morning offered and made the best of it.

In short I ran with a purpose.

And that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

Coaches talk about it all the time. Practice with purpose. It’s corollary is the axiom “you play how you practice.” Dog it during drills and the probability is high that in game situations you will also dog it, lacking the focus, energy and quality repetitions needed to create good habits which lead to great plays.

In my triathlon world, this is my offseason. I still train, but with a focus on maintaining fitness and working on specific areas in need of improvement. I have a routine but less structure. The watches, for the most part, are gone and training becomes less about numbers and more about developing strength, both physical and mental, in ways which are unquantifiable. Which is fine. I’ve always been more of a qualitative girl anyways.

Which brings me back to purpose.giddy

Some days I’m all about the rise and grind. The competitor in me wants to set new personal records and beat my personal nemesis at the next half marathon. She wants to go longer distances. She wants to go faster. She wants to, in a word, be bad ass.

But not every day is about rise and grind. The desire to beat a time on a clock or that slightly too-cocky-for-her-own-good acquaintance only gets me so far. It’s not my real purpose. It’s just part of the fun of the game.

My real purpose is to feel strong and healthy and connected to my world. Running, biking and swimming is how I make sense of the world. It brings me clarity. It brings me inspiration. It brings me strength. It’s my outlet when things are crashing down and it’s my joy when I’m bursting at the seams. It is the foundation that allows me to do all the wonderful, crazy things I love — the travel, the adventure, the hiking, the writing. It’s my center. My ground zero.

And here’s the key: My purpose is mine and mine alone. It is not your purpose, though yours may be similar. Your purpose may be the complete opposite of mine, but it doesn’t make either less valid.

My purpose is what gets me out of bed at 5:30 a.m. It’s what drives me to show up, to try and to accept failure as part of the process. My purpose is not tied to outcome. In fact, my purpose makes me smile, brings me joy and all the good things in life, regardless of what that outcome is. My purpose is what makes all the work worthwhile and the truly beautiful discovery is that my purpose only needs to make sense to me.

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