I don't know if anyone else works like this, but the more "success" I'm having, the more productive I am. I guess it makes sense--for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton's Third Law of Motion isn't subjective in the physical world, it's just stating how the physical world works. But it's also how my mental and emotional worlds work. If I'm feeling mentally fit and emotionally sound, look out! I can create and move mountains like nobody's business, which makes me feel even better, so I have even more energy to do more (an equal and opposite reaction).
Monday evening I was in Austin, Texas. My running camp had wrapped up in the morning, and I spent the rest of the day walking downtown, soaking up the sun and the heat. The experience was so incredibly impactful that I couldn't begin to process it yet, nor did I want to. I just wanted to feel it and let it settle in--maybe store it up like the Texas heat to take back with me to Minnesota. When I got back to the hotel I felt like I needed to put a button on the whole thing, and what better way to end running camp then with a run?
Historically it's always been a little battle for me to get out the door for my workouts. I'm (almost) always glad that I did after the fact, but me and running have had a bit of a contentious, albeit dynamic, relationship. Old habits and old thought patterns die hard, so I was dragging my feet a bit getting ready, but I could feel a pull (if I'm being bold I'd call it actual excitement) to get out there and get running. As soon as I started I knew this run was different. I do not often feel like a powerful runner, and many times I've had the thought that if I could be granted one wish it would be to experience running fast. Little did I know that I have access to the ingredients to whip up that recipe. From the first step of that run to the last, I felt powerful. And I felt fast. I was engaged. I was orienteering and pushing. I was sweating, and calculating, and fully present. I had Texas heat and running camp stored in my emotions and in my mind and in my cells, and in spite of exhaustion and age and extra weight and any of the other narratives I usually lead with, I was flying. I was exploring the city and exploring my limits and was caught in the moment. I was having an equal and opposite reaction to the past five days, and I unlocked a little bit of magic when I realized that I have the power to recreate this whenever I want to. Whenever I choose to. I realized that as important as fuel and training and timing and gear and weather and warmups and rehab can be, they are matched equally by feeling connected, being seen, curiosity and joy. Being so filled up from the weekend of connections and engagement and learning didn't just make me feel more powerful, I was more powerful. It didn't seem like I was running faster with more ease--I was running faster, with ease. I had something to burn and my stride was open, just like my heart was open.
Running informs my life, and life informs my running. They are comrades--they need each other and they feed off one another. Filling either of them fills both of them, and not setting limits on either of them expands both of them. They both need the tangibles for survival--water, fuel, gear; and they need the less obvious tangibles--training, mental strength, rest. But in equal measure, or maybe this is actually the biggest slice of the pie, they need the full on force of what can't be measured in intake but shows up in spades in results: being valued, being seen, being believed in, and feeling loved.
I will continue to train, track my metrics and push on quality days. I will keep learning about running and nutrition and strength and mobility. And I will take my rest days to absorb it all. But after this weekend I now know that is only half of the equation--connection and supporting other runners and being a part of a larger community are not to be underestimated. They are immeasurable, non negotiable components of being a powerful runner.
I took a risk and made myself vulnerable, and the equal and opposite reaction was power and speed.
And loads and loads of gratitude.