Moving forward requires looking ahead, yet one of the most dangerous traps I’ve fallen into is continually looking back – looking behind. What am I looking for? Good question. Self-reflection is positive, but only if you are willing to try, learn, grow, change and move on. The problem occurs when we get trapped in the ‘this is what used to work’ mentality. As it pertains to running, I’ve been looking back to just a few short years ago when I had more time, more recovery, and fewer options. The sport has also radically changed over these past 5 years as well. Me? I’ve simply been stuck in the ‘well, this used to work’ mentality, and I’ve blindly put my head down and ‘soldiered on’ just how I used to. I don’t think that works any more.
Over the years, I’ve sought to define my biggest ‘why’ for why I run. It’s been hard to nail down. Fitness? Yes. The people and community? Yes, mostly. Health? Yes, mostly. Spending time in the outdoors? Sure. Enjoying the mountains? Yeah, that too. At times, all of these have served as strong motivation, but the driving force has been and always will be ‘the process.’ I love the training process. Moving from out-of-shape to incredibly fit drives me. Changing poor behaviors that get in the way of achieving goals drives me. Hardening the mind and body by pursuing a difficult goal drives me. Building a foundation drives me. Strengthening the mind simply by putting one foot in front of the other drives me. Setting a goal, moving towards that goal, achieving that goal, and inspiring others to do the same – drives me. Eliminating the distractions which inhibit focus – that drives me. Again – ‘the process’ is something that drives most of us in this sport, and it is most definitely the driving force behind my running. What’s wrong with that? Well, nothing – unless you get caught up in trying to repeat the exact nuts-and-bolts of the process every time regardless of any major life changes. That mentality is exactly what’s getting in my way these past few years. Chasing the shadows of previous years’ training by trying to precisely replicate and out-perform prior efforts while simultaneously escalating the core responsibilities of life is a difficult proposition. Bro – it’s not working. Replicating training from previous seasons, while moving that training more to the edges/periphery of life has not worked. Pause. Step back. Reconfigure. Try something else.
A dangerous phrase: “I used to…”. This really becomes a stagnant and fuzzy lens with which to view the world, and I’ve been the dude putting those glasses on time-and-time again. You could argue that I’m ‘well-intentioned’ – indeed, every year, I specialize in taking a look at what went well, what needs to change, and then I map out a new plan. I’m the master of the white-board. Painting the big picture is a strength of mine. Listing actionable items is also a strength of mine, but actually following through on those actionable items? Arguably my biggest weakness as a runner and human-being. Lapsing back into ‘what I used to do’ because ‘it used to work’ is something I’ve been doing for a while now, and forecasting that same trajectory into the future is scary.
Stagnation should be feared. Regression should be feared. Here’s to staring down that fear, actually making the required changes, and building a new future on the foundation of self-awareness. The past is just that – the past. Time to move on. This morning I tweeted: “September 1st. Not a cloud in the sky… Onward…” Onward indeed… It’s time to do things with more efficiency and intelligence. I’m done chasing shadows. It’s time to create something new. Thanks for reading. DC