A New Distance and A Lesson

I planned an 18 mile run for yesterday.

I mapped a route on Google Maps that looked exciting, venturing into neighborhoods and parks I haven’t explored yet.

I got a rain hat.

I put some Clif Shot Bloks in a baggie in my pocket.

I wrote down all my directions on post-it notes and put those in my pocket too.

I even looked up drinking fountain locations along my run.

My run didn’t go exactly as planned.

I got lost. And I didn’t realize I was lost until I’d run about 2 miles in the wrong direction, meaning I had to run 2 more miles back to get back on track. However, I didn’t know this at the time; I don’t have any device that measures my distance, so I wasn’t sure how far I had gone, where I was, or how far I had to go.

I kind of flipped out. I called G to have him help me figure out where I was. I was impatient. I was mad at myself for getting lost. I was worried this would impact the distance I covered. I didn’t want to stop running to figure out what to do, but of course I had to since I was totally confused. It had started raining. I was cold, wet, exhausted, and really frustrated.

Thank goodness I was sensible enough to bring my phone. With G’s help I got turned around and ran ran ran back in the right direction. But I was still upset and frustrated. I still felt confused. Most of all, I felt TIRED. What had been a really great run up until about mile 16 (when I realized I was lost, though I didn’t know how far I’d gone at that point) devolved into a can-barely-pick-up-my-feet pace. And I was soaked from the rain.

I rain slowly towards home, but I felt defeated, mentally and physically. Finally, still a distance from my starting point, I called G and asked him to come pick me up. I just couldn’t go any farther.

I felt awful about not being able to make it home. And though I knew I had covered a lot of distance, I was worried I had given in before reaching my goal of 18 miles. I was mad at myself for goofing up and giving up.

After calming down and taking a warm shower, I sat down to measure my distance. Imagine my surprise when the map showed that I had run 20 miles! 20 miles! So much farther than I’ve ever gone before!

I’m proud that I accomplished those miles, but I’m not proud of the way I handled getting lost. I was really angry at myself. I was impatient with G. I let myself feel defeated by a minor setback. I tried to push myself beyond what I should have because I felt guilty for making a mistake.

I run because it makes me feel good. It makes me proud to accomplish new challenges in distance and pacing. I run because it’s good for my body to move. I run because it helps me let go of anxieties and doubts and just focus on being. I run because running gives me confidence, because I prove to myself that I am strong. Feeling defeated and guilty are not a part of running. There’s no reason to feel bad about making a mistake, getting lost, slowing down, needing to stop.

So, I accomplished a new distance, one I’m very proud of. And I learned a lesson while doing it. I can fall into angry, negative thinking while I run. I can feel guilty and defeated by setbacks and mistakes. Or I can give myself permission to make mistakes and see them as a new challenge to accomplish. I can take the time I need to deal with these challenges. I don’t have to feel guilty. Any time I’m out there running (or any time at all, really) I should be proud.

Also, it might be a good idea to avoid routes that require six post-it notes of handwritten directions.

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