So last night, I was driving home in a typical Florida thunderstorm, the kind where it is nearly impossible to see more that 5 feet in front of you when you are driving. The type of pouring rain where it would be normal to see a boat go floating by with two elephants, two giraffes, two lions, two bears….. It was the type of rain that makes me think of two things: Prince’s Purple Rain and the scene from Say Anything….when Lloyd calls Diane after their break up. Lloyd talks about how the rain is a baptism for his car, washing away the memories that they have shared together in his car and he will be a better man and he is ready to conquer to the world.
I started thinking about that as it was raining and I was driving past one of my normal running routes. The rain was cleaning all the rubber, sweat, tears, joy, and agony that I had left over my running routes. It served as a reminder that as a runner there are going to be some good runs, some bad runs, some runs where you just totally have to suck it up to finish, and worse, some that you just cannot finish no matter who badly you want. But those are all runs that are in the past and that we should not try to dwell on them for long, especially the bad ones. They are just building blocks for the future, the ones that are designed to make us better runners.
My biggest problem as a runner is that I will often dwell on my last runs, especially if they were terrible runs. Sometimes I will even begin to believe that a certain running route, a running shirt, or pair of shoes are jinxed if I continually have bad efforts on them or while wearing them, especially when I set my goal to be loftier than it should be. And for me that can be a big challenge when running in Florida during the spring through early fall when the humidity is high. It is very hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that the humidity has a major effect on my effort and that I am not making as much progress as I would like as quickly as I would like.
But honestly, the even bigger challenge for me is the mental challenge. With my busy work schedule and family I find it hard to get more than one run in per week. So I am constantly trying to make that one run count, it has to be better than the week before. And if it is not better, it is going to be a long 168 hours of me being in a bad mood. Thinking about what I did wrong, what I need to do to get better, how am I going to get better, am I going to get better, WHY AM I DOING THIS???? I’M NEVER GOING TO BE READY FOR THIS RACE!!!!!!
But now I think about that rain, washing away all the work that I have put in. It matters to me, but not that rain. That rain has washed it all away. It has made that trail new again, almost virginal. A new trail for me to blaze, to place new rubber, to create new miles, new goals, new accomplishments. To face new challenges and adversities to overcome. To become better and stronger. As Rocky Balboa famously said:
“It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
Or New Edition, “Can You Stand the Rain.”