It was 13 degrees when I left the farm this morning.
The car "automatically" drove to the Y.
Today on the treadmill, I did 15 minutes of walking (warmup), 30 minutes of running, and 15 minutes of walking (cool down).
I believe that the human is hardwired to push to one's limits. For 45 years as an academic I was pushed to the limits intellectually and professionally. After Becky died I was pushed to the limits emotionally and spiritually. I guess the one area of my life that hasn't been pushed to the limits yet is my physical body. The longer I do this, the more I want to explore the reasons behind it. Why is a question we all have to answer for ourselves.
Right now I'm training for a 31 mile trail run. But why? Why do I do this? When it's my time, is the goal to leave behind a body that was never tested, or do I really want to use it?
I am so blessed to have the health and the capacity to enjoy being active. But I want to take it to the next level. I am slowly learning how to eat, how to cook my own food, what I need to be able to push further and further so I can keep extending my limits. I am thankful for the body God has given me and how extraordinary it is (not just mine but yours too). I love to exercise and I just can't quit. I know that after I work out I have more energy for the rest of the day. The relinquishing of time for exercising actually creates more time. I am learning how to pace myself. I am learning what kinds of foods are good for me and keep me healthy and free of colds and flus.
My career has taken me all over the world, but today I enjoy nothing more than a run outdoors in my own backyard, marveling at the satisfaction I get from knowing that the foods I am eating are actually the foods my body wants. My body craves a healthy diet. Is also craves movement. I remember the first time I ran one mile without stopping. It was maybe 7 years ago and I was vacationing in Hawaii. I ran down N. Kalaheo Ave for one mile without stopping to rest. What I once thought was impossible changed my life forever. I will never doubt myself again. If you believe you can run a mile, you can. If you don't believe, you won't.
I am not afraid of my upcoming ultra. In fact, I am not training to run a 31-mile trail run at all. I am training to learn how to enjoy a 31-mile outdoor festival put on by the Creator himself, one mile at a time.
I find it funny how the talk these days is -- will Tom Brady retire this year if he loses a playoff game? Or Aaron Rodgers. I say "funny" because what we accomplish in life does not define us. It's not who we are. Sure, it's nice when people are impressed with what you've done. But we do not depend on the praise of others to confer value on our lives. Accolades are merely ornaments on the tree. The real you is the person who wakes up every morning to live a life you love.
Be consistent to your commitment to your goals and live every day for eternity with all the strength you are given from above. At the same time, don't ever be afraid to do something audacious. Tonight I am cooking pork ribs for supper in the crock pot. I have no idea what I'm doing but it's so much fun. It's only been in the last 100 years or so that toiling in the fields and preparing one's own meals from what was at hand has not been the norm. With the decrease in daily outdoor activity, our lives have become oh-so very comfort-prone. The body, however, is always telling us to move.
The key is to be completely relaxed and happy as you exercise. It may sound like a ridiculous claim, but I exercise with a nearly-magical sense of well-being. Being active can be energizing, fun, and comfortable for nearly anyone, at any age. Even low levels of exercise can improve our health. Simply move, and you will improve.
Running an ultra doesn't have to be your journey. But isn't it time you took a baby step outside of what's comfortable?
How we spend the rest of our days is completely up to us. It is not achievement per se but the unremitting effort to achieve that marks the successful life.