Monday, February 9, 2015

Learning to Embrace the Journey

During last weekend's long run, I was reminded that marathon training - and life in general - is a journey not a destination.  I was due to run 13 miles and planned an out-and-back route from my house.  I ran along a road I've driven countless times but one I've never run.  While I made my way along unpredictable sidewalks (seriously, St. Louis county, why the inconsistent sidewalks?!), I tried to enjoy the process of getting to the turnaround point.  There was no significance to the furthest point except that it was 6.5 miles from my house.  I wouldn't do anything special there.  I was just supposed to run to that spot and then turn around to retrace the very same path.

When I got there, I was surprised by how I felt at the turnaround point.  It was an intersection that I've encountered numerous times, but it felt different seeing it on foot rather than through the windshield.  Or rather, I felt different.  Was it due to the fact that I'd spent the last 6.5 miles lost in a podcast rather than refereeing backseat brawls?  Or because I was watching the blue morning sky and not focusing on bad drivers and unsignaled lane changes?  Or because I'd just climbed a killer hill and could now enjoy descending it?  Whatever the reason for my mood, it reminded me that I was on a journey.  The marathon journey to push my body and my brain to new limits.  The life journey to do the same.

As a stubborn, Type A individual, I can easily become fixated on individual goals and the steps needed to achieve them.  I don't pay attention to the path.  I merely check off the boxes, achieve the goal, and move on to the next one.  Now that I'm well ensconced in my 30s, however, I'm making an effort to appreciate the process rather than obsessing over the final target.  Because, as we all know, there is no final target.  When we reach the point we thought would be the end, there are always new challenges, new goals, new tasks to be done.

So I'm embracing the journey.  Taking time to enjoy the present moment - or not enjoy it, as the case may be, but to acknowledge that it is an entity unto itself and not just a signpost along the way.  The journey is not always pretty, and it's certainly not always easy.  But it is worth the effort for it is on the journey that we are changed.

Do you embrace the journey of training and/or life or do you seek the destination?  Any advice for this journey-focused newbie?