What I talk about when I talk about running

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Running, passion, live life to the full, career change, career coaching

Always on the run

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“Why do I do this to myself?”

I ask this question at 7.32am on a Sunday morning as I stand on my front doorstep staring at the rain.  The marathon is 8 weeks away and the training schedule suggests that I run 18 miles today.

I nearly turn tail and head back inside to the warmth and comfort of bed, yet something makes me take the first step into the rain.  Three hours later I return, soaking, calves aching, hands stained black from the old gloves I’m wearing and starving.  But happy.

I’ve been a runner for 10 years now.  Before I got hooked, I didn’t really have a hobby or pastime.  Now I can’t imagine my life without running.

It is my passion, my outlet, a way to work out my body and stay healthy, a place to think, a ritual, a sanctuary, a whole new way of thinking, a challenge to my relationship with time, a way to learn about being with myself, an obsession, part of my identity.

For me, this passion is like a reliable friend – it is always there for me rain or shine, on good days and bad. Running never judges me, never gives me a hard time, never let’s me down.  Running is there to listen to what is going on in my head, and to give me time to reflect on it.  It’s a sanctuary from the storm and a place to celebrate success.  Running challenges me to be better, yet on my terms.

Running has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve found a new comfort with myself through spending time alone.  I used to struggle to spend 30 minutes alone, now I enjoy my own company.  I’ve found that time seems to melt when I’m out pounding the streets.  Hours fly by with barely a thought in my mind.  I sometimes enter a zone where time seems to lose any meaning and I feel a sense of genuine bliss.  I also find that my unconscious mind solves many of my toughest challenges on runs, and delivers the results later.

Most of all, I am a runner now.  It is part of my identity. Hell, I have 5 years of spreadsheets detailing every run I’ve done.  Running is not an option, it is an essential in my week.  I don’t run to impress or please anyone else, it is purely for my own enjoyment.  I couldn’t imagine being without my smelly old running shoes, the Goretex jacket and those ever so lovely Lycra tights.  Phil is a runner.

Reading this, I wonder if I’ve become dependent on running. Tracy Todd, an amazing blogger who had a car accident and is now quadriplegic wrote these powerful words:

There was a time in my life when I was living my dream.  Everything changed the instant I broke my neck in a car accident and was paralyzed from the neck down.  I was forced to change my dreams but I learned that is okay as long as one has dreams and hope.  I learned from personal experience that disappointment can be absolutely shattering if life happens to throw one a curveball.  It is important to have the ability to change one’s focus when necessary but even more critical is to have the emotional intelligence to make peace with it.”

How would I cope if my passion, my friend, my teacher, part of my identity was taken away from me one day?  How would I learn to let go?  How would I change as a person?

First, thinking about this helps me to appreciate what I have even more and to make the most of every run.  When I’m flagging and tempted to give up, it does sometimes cross my mind that “this could be my last ever run”.  That thought was a strong factor in me finishing 18 miles on Sunday.

Second, It makes me think about how flexible we need to be as humans living in an ever changing world.  Our certainties in life can disappear in an instant.  What we take for granted is fleeting and fragile.  Learning to change, adapt and continue making the most of life is a powerful ability.  However important my passion for running may be, it can never define me.

I’ve gained a new perspective on life through the appreciation and contemplation of running. My personal gratitude has grown through the gifts I have received.  If I ever reach the end of the line, there are no regrets, only happy memories.  And every time I lace up and head out into the rain, I do so with a smile on my face and thanks in my heart.

What things in your life that take you to another place, that bring you peace, fascination, release, happiness?  What do you talk about when you talk about your passions?  How do they enhance your life?  And what would you do without them?  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the LOL community.

Others great blogs on passion:

Belinda Munoz at the Halfwaypoint on the Small Things that add Meaning.

Patty Bechtold at Why Not Start Now on Cloud Watching.

Related posts:

  1. Stop taking life too seriously – 5 ways to enjoy the journey


  1. Phil
    March 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    What are your passions? How do they enhance your life? What have they taught you? How would you deal with not being able to do the any more?

  2. March 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    This is a very apt post for me today. I DIDN’T go on my run this morning, and I’ve been left all out of kilter as a result. My excuses? Too cold outside, I was feeling wimpy etc, etc. Am still shaking off the resulting grouchiness!

    And this from someone who only discovered the joys of runnning about 3 weeks ago. It has reenergised me, focussed me, and made me feel about 1000 times more positive. It’s incredible what just a pair of trainers can do! I’m exploring my new area, pushing myself a little bit each time, and realising that I work well to small goals on a daily basis (internal dialogue goes something like this: ‘come on, you can make it to that silver birch tree’, or ‘if you run really fast to that(landmark)you could have whatever it is you want – what is it?’). It’s good, it makes me think about what it is I’m wanting to achieve – on both a small and a large basis.

    Also, silly as it sounds, motivating myself to achieve those tiny little goals has given me the confidence to achieve tiny little goals outside of running – mainly at work, where I have/had been demotivated for quite a while. A change of attitude and confidence has yielded results!

    Thanks Phil, I’ll keep checking in!

  3. Phil
    March 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Alexia – welcome to the exciting world of running. I love the natural high you talk about from getting out and feeling some endorphines pumping around my body. I think many of our passions have this effect – energizing us, providing focus and positivity. It is a great lesson in setting and hitting goals too. Keep it up and please do keep checking in.


  4. March 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Phil, this is a fantastic post. Your passion just really showed through and made me smile. But it also made me think, and even feel slightly regretful. I get in a ‘zone’ when I play music, but I just haven’t been taking the time to play lately. It makes me feel sad, but you’re right that we should be grateful for the chance to do them. And to feel so involved in an activity that takes you outside of the way you usually think and feel is an amazing experience.
    .-= Ruth – Web Career Girl´s last blog ..Update on My February Niche Website Building Challenge =-.

  5. March 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    This is an awesome post. I love the photo, your thoughts on running and what you’re friend says about coming to peace with his life.

    I can’t wait to hear all about your marathon. I’ve never ran more than a 25K. Not sure I want too. I hate pain;) I love the thought of using that mantra in your tough long runs. Again this is the best!

  6. Phil
    March 4, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Ruth – thanks for your response. Finding something we love is a gift and we should enjoy it while we can. I hope you’ll make your way back to music and find some time in that special place it can take us to.

  7. Phil
    March 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Tess – thanks for your comment – I appreciate your kudos. 25k is no small beans – that takes you into the ranks of the long runner. I know that you pursue what you are passionate about from your great blog posts. Keep on being Bold!


  8. March 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Phil, you make me want to bust out my lycra tights and run in the rain for miles and miles! And I’m a yoga devotee. This is the most passionate and inspirational post I’ve ever read about running.
    This: And every time I lace up and head out into the rain, I do so with a smile on my face and thanks in my heart — what powerful words. Because the proverbial rain may stop but it never goes away completely and that shouldn’t stop us from smiling and being grateful. Love how happy you look in the photo.
    Thanks for the link! Apparently it’s a day to link to each other, huh? And how cool that you linked to one of my favorite bloggers, Patty Bechtold. Isn’t she awesome?! And Tracy Todd, what a powerful voice she has.

  9. March 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Just stumbled upon your article from Belinda’s retweet. I love running and I can related to everything you’ve written about here. Unfortunately, I’ve been plagued with legs issues and I’ve been hindered from excelling, but I’m determined to get back on track. I can tell you that I when I’m running consistently, my mood is so much more enhanced. New England winters can be tough, so I don’t run as much in the cold. Anyway, thanks for a good kick in the butt to remind me that I need to keep going. The results are just too good to give up running.


  10. Phil
    March 4, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow – thanks for that high praise. Well I am still working my way round to yoga. Maybe you can share some insights on your practice on the Half Way Point? Love the link sharing, the way forward. Take Care, Belinda!

  11. Phil
    March 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Michael – Lovely comment, thank you. I hope that your legs heal up. After my run my calves have been really sore and I’ve been resting this week (in fact my personal trainer told me to rest and not do a long run this weekend). So go enjoy – running in the fresh cold air of early spring can be quite beautiful!

    Peace to you to!

  12. March 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    I wish you the best with your new ebook (will check it out) and your London Marathon. If you run Boston someday, please let me know — it starts about two miles from my home.

    It’s wonderful to have something you love to do! I feel that way about singing. And I know what it’s like to lose such a great hobby-love. I started to lose my voice one day about ten years ago and could barely speak let alone sing for many years.

    It’s a long story that will be the subject of an essay. The short of it, is that a miracle happened and I was able to return to singing/karaoke after a wonderful teacher helped me bring my voice back to life.

    I go every week because I never know when my voice may disappear again.

    Enjoy it all!

    Giulietta, Inspirational Rebel
    .-= Giulietta the Muse´s last blog ..Stop Saving Your Life For Later! =-.

  13. Helen
    March 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Yes, this struck a chord with me too.
    My escape is walking the dog, especially if I can manage to do it alone but even with a child in pushchair or back carrier it can give me the break that I need to organise my thoughts, think of others, pray, plan and generally take some mental time out to prepare for the rest of life.
    The advantage of a dog is that you have to go out … and whilst you might initially tell yourself that you are only going to to the minimum distance you often find yourself getting into a rhythm and completing a more worthwhile route.
    I did notice that I really missed this time when both boys were really small and I didn’t feel able to leave them in order to walk freely. Sometimes you have to be prevented from doing what is best for you, or forced into modifying it, in order to define what it is you actually need to do for your own sanity!
    Thank you for the article, Phil.

  14. March 5, 2010 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    By following our passions we can discover certain things about ourselves that we did not know. Also, we can see the beauty of everything when we are running through our passions. I found that I have many passions in life and I’m happy to explore them all. :-)

  15. March 5, 2010 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    Phil, thank you so much for the link. I’m especially honored to be mentioned with Belinda, AND to be mentioned within this amazing piece you’ve written. Not only did you inspire me with your boundless passion for running, but you reminded me to live each moment fully because we never know what tomorrow will bring. It’s like a wake-up call residing in an everyday moment. I love that! And we have the capability to say, “No regrets, only happy memories” and realize that however far we get will be enough. Wow, triple whammy!
    p.s. my enduring passions are creativity and nature and meaning.
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Please, Bore Me! =-.

  16. Joe
    March 5, 2010 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Phil, Your writing is so smooth it’s a pleasure to read. The quote “Why do I do this to myself,” is hilarious. How could I not read on? I’m glad I did. Running 18 miles is truly inspirational. Good luck in the marathon!

  17. Phil
    March 5, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Joe – thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it. I’m taking an (enforced) break from running this week, due to a few minor injury issues. Should be back out on the street next week though!

  18. March 5, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I am honored to be mentioned in your blog. Thanks for your kind words.

    In my previous life (pre-accident) I was also a runner. Running was my passion and part of my identity too. I remember the annoyance I used to feel on the odd occasion when illness, minor injury or other commitments prevented me from going on my daily run. I was too arrogant to think that I may never run again. I took everything in life for granted.

    But, I have learned that human beings have an incredible spirit of survival and have the ability to overcome adversity and more importantly, adapt to change.

    I believe that running is still part of my identity. To be a runner one needs to be self-disciplined, courageous, goal oriented, motivated, passionate, health-conscious and strong. In essence one needs to have a fit mind, body and spirit.

    I may no longer be physically running on the road but I am still running the most important marathon of all — the marathon of life!
    .-= Tracy Todd´s last blog ..It’s Feeding Time =-.

  19. Phil
    March 5, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Giulietta – Thank you for stopping by and the good wishes. Your understanding of your passion has grown from the experience of not having it. I’m sure you love singing all the more as a result and do it with your typical gusto and joy. Keep in strong voice and keep up the great work – when can we expect another wonderful post?

  20. Phil
    March 5, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Hi there cous! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I know that time and space are precious for you at the moment, and those walks with the dog must be bliss. Having the necessity to go is a great way to bring that into your day. I imagine that there is some real beauty where you live and hope you get the chance to take it all in. I agree on the sanity point – we all have a baseline and finding it helps us to live life without overwhelming emotion and disease. Take care!

  21. Phil
    March 5, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Walter – you are right. Another benefit of being outside is just marveling at the natural world around us. Even if running isn’t your thing, just walking slowly and taking in the world can be stunning. I’m excited for spring and the cherry blossom that grows on my street. Thanks for stopping by!


  22. Phil
    March 5, 2010 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Patty – thanks to you. I love your blog and am always inspired. I love your latest post on boredom – even when we are bored we can still live fully and make the most of it. You have some powerful passions and I know you will keep living them and loving that.

  23. Phil
    March 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Tracy – you’re an inspiration. Thank you for your kind words and your amazing perspective. Keep running the marathon of life with joy, passion and love.


  24. March 8, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Phil, that was a powerful post! It is awesome to have something you are so passionate about. A lot of people if you ask them have no idea what their passions are. That always makes me sad. One of my passions is dancing. I can dance anywhere and to almost any music. Just love it! Thanks for the reminder to think about our passions and to treasure them.
    .-= Lana – Daring Clarity´s last blog ..30 Sentences for a Millionaire Mindset + Interview With Dragos Roua =-.

  25. Phil
    March 8, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Lana – thanks! Do keep dancing and loving life. I really like your new identity and look forward to following and supporting your journey.


  26. Tim
    March 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly, this article steals its name from a book by Haruki Murakami. Big fan?

  27. Phil
    March 15, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Tim – rumbled – I’m a massive fan and that it is one of my favorite books. I love the lyricism of the name. Thanks for the comment!

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