Patience. In running, it’s not just a virtue. It’s a necessity.
Some people are patient.
Other people check their watches every 24 seconds, subconsciously chew the insides of their cheeks, grumble grouchily, make obnoxious exhalations of air that may be accompanied by a quiet curse, tap their feet, and take it as a deep personal offense every time the bus is even one minute late.
I am one of these people.
What about you?
These impatient people guard their time jealously. They are uncomfortable and anxious if it becomes apparent that they will not arrive at least five minutes early to wherever it is they are going. They must train themselves not to be the social outcast who comes to parties when the invitation tells them to. If someone asks them the time of day, these people are known to bark out, “10:36!” or “3:02!” If someone informs them that the group is leaving in five minutes, these individuals will be sighing and standing by the door precisely five minutes later, wondering why all the other doofuses are still noodling around and completely disregarding the aforementioned Departure Time, which, in their impatient minds, is now the Eleventh Commandment.
These people are known to endure stormy internal temper tantrums while sitting at airport gates, standing in long grocery checkout lines, or trying to corral perpetually late co-workers into showing up promptly for professional commitments.
Try not to dislike these people for their impatience. They simply value timeliness.
Perhaps, however, the impatient person in question is a runner. Perhaps this person’s impatience is manifesting in her training and racing. Perhaps she needs a reminder…
That distance running is not a sport for the impatient.
That distance running is not a sport for those who depend on instant gratification.
Instant gratification is acceptable under certain circumstances, sure. But it can drain an experience of meaning and substance. It’s like instant coffee. Or instant oatmeal. Or worst of all, those dreadful Instant Breakfast packets by Carnation that taste like aspartame, powdered titanium, and strychnine.
Lately, I’ve been in need of such a reminder.
After a weekend where I excitedly followed from afar as so many running blog pals excelled at their respective races, I found that after my excitement faded, I was… unsatisfied for myself. Unsatisfied that I’m so far away from any racing opportunities. Unsatisfied that I am so fit and have no way to prove it to myself. Fidgety, impatient, and frustrated that the next real race I can conceivably participate in (without blowing thousands of dollars on a plane ticket out of Alaska), is in April. Yes, this entire thought process is wildly immature, I know.
I will bide my time.
Stay below the radar. Keep my nose down. Get the miles in. Respect the aches.
Keep on getting it done. Throw on the yaktrax for the snowy days. Put the ice studs on when it freezes. Dodge through the slush. Stuff the newspaper in my water-bloated trainers day after day. Deal with it, gut it out, limit the whining, cut the theatrics.
Because soon there will be more daylight than I even know what to do with.
Soon the streets will be iceless, the sidewalks clear, and my legs toughened with mileage and sharpened by quality work.
And when that day comes, I’ll be ready.
TO INFLICT UNADULTERATED DESTRUCTION ON MY CURRENT PRs! DUN DUN DUNNNN.
Either that or I’ll be burned out and injured after acting on the overzealous sentiments detailed here.
In either case, I will be patient.
Are there certain things in life that you have no patience for? For me, it’s lateness. Luckily, I’ve gotten better about not being such an uptight Time Nazi.
How do you approach winter training? Is it a maintenance period, an opportunity to let your body recharge, an opportunity to build up? Something else?