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I’m training for everything

By June 9, 2010How To

“Are you training for a marathon or something?” Was the question I was asked in response to the 11.2 mile run.

“Nope.” Was the answer.

But it was a lie.

I’m training for everything.

When I get out of bed at 5 a.m.ish to run or rollerblade or bike or swim every morning, I’m:

  • Strengthening my body. Feeling good in my skin is vitally important to my productivity, self-esteem, health. I literally write stronger, sit in my chair stronger, think stronger and create stronger when my body feels like this. The muscles, the solidness, the firmness, the lines, the curves, the soft bits—they are all an integral part of my writing. When I don’t feel good in my body, when I feel heavy and frumpy, I feel bad about myself and it contaminates my creativity.
  • Fortifying my will. It takes determination to get out of bed. To run when I don’t feel like it. To trust that the nervy feeling in my knee will go away if I just relax. To go farther than I’ve ever gone. To do the same damn run I always do. To take a day off (I think that’s the hardest, actually). To stop if it doesn’t feel right. To practice rich self-care.
  • Reinforcing my belief that I am good, full of follow through and fruition. I like to have a lot to do. Boredom destroys me. So I usually have many projects going at once. And while this is a choice and typically feels good—there are those days. Where I’m drowning in my to-do list, terrified that I can’t get it all done. Sometimes it’s just the blank screen with a new project title at the top and that feeling that I won’t be able to pull this one out, that the words won’t come, that I’ll never be able to write ___ pages. And then I remember that I got up early this morning in the snow or humidity or wind and sweat for 8 miles before the sun was even up. And then I start writing…or living, as the case may be.
  • Taking comfort in the fact that there are always lessons to be learned. Should we count how many posts I’ve written in the last year about the correlation between my work and my running, my life and my rollerblading and my writing and my _____? Maybe because ‘on the road’ is the diametric opposite to ‘in the chair’—and the juxtaposition is the great revealer.
  • Plugging into the source. My mind writes when I move in the methodical ways that these workouts invite. I don’t listen to music. I don’t try to think about things. I just put one foot, or hand, in front of the other and literally make space for my own personal ticker tape feed in my brain. I don’t plan it, it just happens. Problems are solved, clarity surfaces, decisions are made.
  • Single-tasking. This is the only time that I’m not multi-tasking. It’s single-pointed focus. It’s meditative. It’s rhythmic breath and step. I can’t help but be present to the sensations in and around me. And it forces me to listen to me—when I shut out all the other noise.
  • Dramatically sweeping. I live entire lives on my runs. From elation to defeat to having massive brain bursts to having my heart break to memories that come sweeping through with the force of a rhino to exhaustion to floating. There is always a beginning, a middle and an end. Like any good story.
  • Sharpening my brain. How do you melt something frozen? You put it in the heat. I sharpen my brain by taking it as far away from my computer and the work and the think tank environs as possible. I get the most out of my brain by putting it in the place where it is needed the least.

How do you train? And what are you training for?

Image credit: TheOwl84

Join the discussion 31 Comments

  • I am training for a marathon. I am training so I can train others effectively. I am training for longevity and purpose. I am training for fun. I am training for friendships. I am training for ego. I am training to see the world around me. I am training for another marathon.
    .-= The Napkin Dad´s last blog ..It Is The Mountaintop That The Lightning Strikes =-.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Love it. Especially the ego. That is so true. It totally feeds my ego, these mileage-able accomplishments.

  • Siddhartha says:

    This is a great post. You write some good stuff, but this is GREAT.

    It’s dead on and insightful and just SO true.

    I do a lot of running and people always ask me what I’m training for. I don’t think it’s a bad question. Mostly people are just trying to engage me in conversation and often people who run a lot ARE training for something.

    I usually just say, no, I’m not training for anything. But THIS is what I’m really feeling, that I’ve never put into words—that I’ve never even tried to put into words, just knew it in my heart.

    To read it here was like you’d just reached into my chest and extracted my perfect but unarticulated explanation for why I run.

    Thank you so much.
    .-= Siddhartha´s last blog ..Five Steps to Evaluate a Good Idea =-.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Thank you! See, you’re a very good reader. Screw all of these tweetups, I want a runup. With all of my writerly, runnerly friends.

  • Kari says:

    Excellent post. You’ve motivated me to get up out of bed & pull on my Nikes on a day when I just don’t feel like it. Perfect timing. And I absolutely know I’ll be thanking you later.

  • Jed says:

    I can’t run…yet. Overweight, bad knee, heart condition, arthritis…and lazy. But, training can take different forms. I can begin a healthy food marathon, a 2K walk, a switch from Diet Coke to a water Iron Man event, and maybe even a “skip the Red Sox game tonight” training and get off the couch. All sorts of training methods to get me to that same right place you describe in your post. And, yes, it makes me sweat to think about it. (Fear can bring about sweat just like exercise.)

  • When I was in 7th grade my two best friends decided that there were four qualities an individual had to have in order to be a God among men.

    We believed that you had to have a steady girlfriend, maintain the ability to run six miles at any moment, and here was the kicker, keep your sense of humor intact. Many of us had two of these qualities but for me the toughest one was doing that six miles. The dedication killed my funny. Or at least that was my excuse.

    But reading this post reminds me that there are indeed some Gods out there among us mortals!
    .-= Christopher Ming Ryan´s last blog ..Canon 5D and 7D DSLRs For Video With Matt Gottshalk =-.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Wait! That’s only 3, Christopher! I’m dying to know the fourth. That’s hilarious.

      And, I’m a GODDESS among men. But you were close.

  • I meant to write “three qualities.”
    .-= Christopher Ming Ryan´s last blog ..Canon 5D and 7D DSLRs For Video With Matt Gottshalk =-.

  • Laura says:

    Love it. My favourite part was this… “When I don’t feel good in my body, when I feel heavy and frumpy, I feel bad about myself and it contaminates my creativity.”

    This is so true. I recognize this about myself as well, and am working to keep my motivation and run, work out, whatever, regularly, and this is a great way to think about it — not only will I feel crappy in my skin, but I won’t be able to be my full, creative self.

  • patrick says:

    I run for many of the same reasons.
    I, too, have to feel good in my skin.
    And I find inspiration on the trail more than anywhere else.
    There, and the shower.
    Why the shower? I don’t know.

  • Love it! Reminds me that every day is a practice of something – I’m training for optimum health – by being more mindful of exercise, food, etc. Part of that is studying more about it, not just “eating better.” I’ve found that when I understand the context of the how and why, it keeps me motivated. Thanks Julie!
    .-= Laura Cococcia´s last blog ..Book Review: Been Everywhere…Got Nowhere =-.

  • Trece says:

    You executed this beautifully. Just like some of my former peeps at who unleashed their inner athletes and became new people.
    Feelings such as you describe are lost to me now, and I am the poorer. But – thanks for the memories.

  • Stef says:

    LOVE this post! As an athlete and entrepreneur I sometimes struggle with balancing it all. Really though it’s all in my head.

    You have know way of knowing how timely and relevant this post is for me to read right now so I’ll just say THANKS!

    .-= Stef´s last blog ..Fun + Hard Core: Iron Girl 2010 Race Report =-.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Stef – I love that it was so timely and relevant!!! You are so welcome. Huge congrats on completing the Iron Girl!

  • Terry says:

    Super post! Sounds zen like and totally in the moment.
    .-= Terry´s last blog ..Do You Know Your Deeply Held Values? =-.

  • You, my dear, are a fabulous writer. Great content and even greater style. I think I’ll be hanging out here a while. Many thanks!

  • Van says:

    A lot of what we’re training for the same. Right now I’m training for creativity and organization. I need organization to create (can’t find everything) so they go hand in hand. Every day I learn a little more and go a little farther. Every day is training for me. (Though I need more of the physical kind of training -ahem-)
    .-= Van´s last blog ..Quick Bedroom Desk Makeover =-.

  • denise says:

    Wow. Truly got scooped up in the wonderfulness of this post. So poignant for me today, as I yearn to identify with and create from my inspired places…

    Yes on so many levels to what YOU said. Thank you.

  • Karen Toms says:

    I loved this post. Such vivid reminders of why that running me-time is so important.

    I particularly liked Dramatically Sweeping. It’s always so amazing the emotions that can get packed in.

    Thanks Julie.
    .-= Karen Toms´s last blog ..Some news =-.

  • ije says:

    Love this! Your posts have got me running again and enjoying it. it’s a great balance to the yoga. And this post articulates all the reasons why it feels so right. Thank you!

  • Eloquent and vividly written. I’ve never been a runner, but I recently pulled my rollerblades out of a decade-long retirement and was relieved to find that single-mindedness you spoke of. While my dedication is lacking compared to yours, you’ve given me something to aspire to, not just for the physical benefits, but for all those you highlighted so well.

    Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Kristen Escovedo´s last blog ..Waiting for "I" =-.

  • Them: What are you training for?
    Me: Life!

    Great post!

    It befuddles me that people are amazed that I am just running to enjoy life; I wish they were enjoying it with me!

    I’m all for the shift toward runups/bikeups/hikeups/walkups; I find when I set meetings on outside or in a creative space the ideas just flow.

    What footwear are you wearing when you run? I highly suggest Vibram FiveFingers if you are trail running or barefoot on other terrain. The sensory input definitely helps me go deeper into the single focus moving meditation of my walk/run.

    Happy Running!


    • Julie Roads says:

      Hi John! I know a couple of serious runners that use the Vibrams…I haven’t quite reached that plateau yet, I’m a bit attached to my Asics! But, I would love to try them. I love having my toes separated – right now, I just have socks that do the job!

  • Hey Julie – I suggest you kick off those Asics at the end of your next run, take off your Ininjis and then run 50 yards barefoot, on Asphault, as ‘quietly’ as you can.

    It’ll put a smyle on your face!

    (only do short distances because any inefficiencies in your stride will show up as blisters!)

    • Julie Roads says:

      John – have you read ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall? I’m guessing you have…but if you haven’t go get it immediately. I devoured it this weekend. And then bought my first pair of Vibrams and some Nike Frees. And ran and ran and ran.

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