You v. You

A clock ticks, the thump of bass passes my window, and my body is so sore that the act of not moving, sitting in silence, is the greatest feeling I’ve ever had. Coffee awakes my brain and warms my hands on this slightly chilly day in January, I’ve turned the heater off as I am currently shifting to a minimalist lifestyle (I was laid off a couple of weeks ago) and I realize I haven’t lifted weights in over a year, maybe two. This is not going to be easy. I convince myself I’m getter better, that this is how it was when I first started running. That this is important for my running, for myself, for everything.

My weight shifts hard, and I realize I’ve sped a little too fast into my old high school’s parking lot. No one’s here, I hope. Without hesitation I step out of my car, the fact that it’s hot doesn’t bother me. It’s Spring of 2010 and I’m wearing basketball shorts that are too long, a ratty t-shirt, and a pair of old running shoes with the heel slightly pulling itself apart from the left shoe. Not phased. Music, sunglasses, and water: check. I stretch, and as I do so, only briefly consider that I might be insane for trying to run 10 miles. I was angry, out of control, and this was how I was going to get a grip on things.

I’ve never been a runner. Ask my friends, family, or the Del Taco drive-through cashier in Oxnard, CA. When I was young, I played baseball and basketball, eventually getting into football in middle school. I was never very good, I’m not a very competitive person. Because of that, no one really cared to teach me how to train. So as I grew up, my thinking was that, I did what everyone else was doing and I’m still “husky” (as my grandmother would phrase it), so I tied in-shapeness to being biologically or athletically gifted. I figured I’d better learn to be funny enough to be liked. Even as I got older, I realized that I could improve my station to a certain degree, but still knew for a fact that I lived in a relative bubble of fitness. Until Spring of 2010.

I’ll spare you the 40 lap epic poem, but it was kind of beautiful. No, I didn’t run the entire way, but it was a time at which I felt I had lost everything (I think we’ve all been there, and 99.5% of us quickly snap out of it when we turn on the news), had no direction, and no one to tell me what I should do next. I went 10 miles, a distance I thought only the most avid runners could do and only suffered the loss of time and a little soreness. What I gained was confidence, clarity, and a sense that if I could do this, what else could I do?

It was that moment among a few others in a short period of time that would set me on a path to train for my first half marathon. By the end of that year I would run two half marathons and one full marathon.

We are so lucky. We have complete control over ourselves. But I don’t know that most of us believe it.

I spoke with a relative, who I love and trust, about my running experience. He congratulated me on my effort, but told me to be careful in a way that inferred I was doing the wrong thing. He continued, saying that despite what I did, I could never keep it up. That, because of my build, I would eventually have to stop, and that it would be much sooner than most people.

Now, I’m an adult, I can handle an opposing argument. I also know that this relative had no ill intention when he said those things. He’s a good guy.

It has gone from chilly to freezing in my apartment, but remembering these things has gotten me too excited to care. I already know I can achieve more than I know. I’ve been there. Now I just have to push further. If you’ve hit bottom, you’re lucky. You can only go up (or die, but that’s probably less likely).

Starting this post, I thought about going into where I’m at now, comparing it to Spring 2010, and in a motivational way, conclude with the idea that I’m starting a new journey to be a better runner than before. However, after being interrupted by two texts and a phone call, I realize that maybe my situation isn’t so bad. And even 2 years ago, I might not have been quite as aware of how good I had it. This is turning into a separate post, so I’ll shut it down for now.

• No matter if you’re in a good place or a rough spot, you can be better. You control you.

• If there’s a change happening in your life, use this time to take inventory of and evaluate your routine and goals. Do they mesh? I’ve always wanted to learn guitar but unless I am saving to buy one, it’s not going to happen. If I have a guitar, but don’t schedule time every day to practice, I won’t learn it. Too often we have goals that we assume will happen later, when we have time and money. Assume you’ll always have as much time and money as you do now. How do you make it happen now?

Your ally,
Caleb

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