It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
Whenever I go for a run, before leaving my condo I always look at the planes taking off from the Toronto City Airport. Why? I want to know before I go outside which way the wind is blowing along the water – my usual running route – and as you know, planes take off into the wind.
Outside my home I have miles and miles of waterfront trails at my disposal going east and west along magnificent Lake Ontario. Waterfront runs are something I thought I’d most definitely be leaving behind when I moved to Toronto from Vancouver last July, but…surprise! Admittedly, I make more use of the Toronto waterfront than I ever did Vancouver’s. (Oops…did I just say that out loud?)
One of the most valuable benefits of running, to me, is that it becomes a moving meditation. Once I get my legs going at a comfortable pace and my body gets itself into a rhythm, my mind starts to wander and my thoughts become like a calming wave of information rippling in and out of my consciousness.
One of the ways that I try facilitate this is by running in a straight line in one direction away from my condo, and once I reach the half-way distance point in my run I turn around and head straight back. No brainer.
Now back to the planes: I alway try to run away from my condo headfirst into the wind – when I’ve got lots of juice in my legs – and then when I turn around to come home and when my legs are a little (or a lot) tired, the wind is at my back. There’s nothing more frustrating or motivationally defeating than trying to run home, exhausted, battling a headwind (Can someone pleeeease order me an Uber!?)
Wind at my back
So here comes the lesson. No, I’m not going to drop in a cliché anecdote of wisdom like “When things are hard in life, remember that planes take off into the wind!”, which is true (I do love me a good motivational quote!) but sometimes the lesson to be learned is when the wind is blowing hard at your back.
This happened to me on my 9 mile run a bit over a week ago. I ran 4.5 miles away from my condo, headfirst and painfully slow into 30km headwinds, but I stayed positive because I knew when I turned around to head home that I’d have my Rocky Balboa moment of GLORY!
So, when my Nike+ running app chimed in with “You’ve reached the half-way point” I turned around, took a swig of water, and then the most interesting thing happened…
The wind was blowing so fiercely at my back that it was pushing, and pushing, and pushing me to run faster than I ever thought I would be comfortable with. But I just had to go with it because if I tried to run any slower it would actually take more energy because then I’d be actively pushing back against the wind.
So I decided to just trust my legs and go with it.
I ran 4.5 miles faster than I’ve ever run in my life (literally), and at the end of it I crushed so many of my previous records I felt like a running bad ass! The wind pushed me to run my fastest 5k segment ever, fastest 1k ever, and my fastest mile ever.
The same is true in life. Sometimes we go for so long, and so hard into the wind with so much pushback, and then that segment of life ends and life pushes us hard in another direction and things can happen fast. Really, really fast.
At first it can feel so easy, so good, so in-the-flow of life that Oprah would be so proud! But then the momentum builds…(oh my!) and builds (I can’t hold on!) and then poof! It’s like we’re losing control! And, ooooh, how we just love to control things!
But what’s actually happening is that life is guiding us, pushing us, getting us out of our comfort zones to show us what we’re capable of. It’s sad how good we are at cutting ourselves short. Well, the hard truth is that the universe/life wants to show off. It wants us to see what we’re capable of whether we like it or not.
This really has been the metaphor of the last year of my life. Every single thing in my life changed so dramatically fast last summer and I couldn’t explain it, and I couldn’t see the finish line of what it meant. But I surrendered and trusted the direction that the winds of life were fiercely pushing me in, and it’s brought me here, to this one moment, and I’m happy. 🙂
See you on the trails and happy running, friends!
Days to Marathon: 72