Tag Archives: training

Dreaming

I first had this dream last summer.  It has come back several times since.  I thought I would share it.

The dream always starts the same.

There I am walking down the street.  The street changes.  Sometimes I’m actually in the road.  Sometimes I’m on a suburban sidewalk.  Sometimes I’m in a very urban environment.  And I’m walking.  I feel my footsteps become lighter.  My strides become longer.

At some point the footsteps are so light and the strides so long I can no longer say I am walking.  I am simply floating down the street.  For some reason the people around me can’t see or don’t notice.  Sometimes I will call out to try to make a friend check out what I can do.  But they just shrug it off as normal.  And I decide to go faster.  The steps are still light.  The strides still long, just… faster.  

I push it into a run.  A floating, light run.  And all feels great in the world.

And sometimes, that’s where the dream ends.  And it’s a good dream.

But other times, the dream keeps going.  And that’s when it gets interesting.

I’m still running down the street.  I start to go even faster.  Things aren’t quite as easy going as before.  My heart rate increases.  My breathing picks up.  I sweat a bit.  But I keep going.  As I keep pushing, the work gets harder.  I lean forward to get even more into the run.  And I keep pushing.  And leaning into it.

I lean so far into it I feel the ground touch my hands.  And I keep going.  Pushing.  Faster.  Only now I can use my hands as well as my feet to send me on my way.  It starts with just my fingertips lightly pushing to help keep my balance.  Gradually my hands, arms and back get more involved.  I am simply devouring the ground.  My whole body is pushing.  Faster.  My pulse is pounding in my head.  My breathing comes out in growls and grunts.  And the world just flies by.  

Growls and grunts?  Animalistic is the only word to describe it.  

And I continue on.  While the going is obviously strenuous, I don’t tire. I don’t slow.  I just keep running.

The dream continues for a bit.  Just me, running like an animal.  At some point I wake.  I am usually breathing hard.  My heart is pumping.  And I’m almost always covered in sweat.  I have no idea how long I have been running in my dream, but I change PJ’s and go back to bed very sleepy and very satisfied.

I’m not one of those guys who believes dream need to mean something, so I try not to read too much into things.  But the fact that this same dream keeps happening (and seems to have no correlation to a training cycle) tells me that this is something important.  It tells me that I like to run.  Running is good.  Running can be even better.  Running can make the normal day (the beginning on the street) even better.  And it can make me feel like a superhero.

Run on friends.

And until next time, don’t let the fat man catch you.

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Motivation

Yes. Motivation. Again. Or still. Shut up and read.

To this day I do not consider myself a runner. I do, however, consider myself a competitor.

I learned about being a competitor playing hockey in Jr. High. I learned that not every takes the game as seriously as I did. Not everyone was willing to do whatever it took to win a game. And sometimes, those people were some of the best on the team. (Over the years I’ve learned this is OK. But at the time it drove me nuts.)

There are at least two parts to being a competitor. The first is motivation. The second is some instinctual drive. Oddly enough, lots of people seem to have one, but not the other.

Me? I have lots of that instinctual drive. I want to be the best. It’s everywhere in my life. Playing CandyLand with the kids it comes out. Cards with Grandma it comes out. Playing Backgammon with my phone… Everything is a race. Everything is a contest. If there’s a score board or a time clock, look out.

But it gets old. My motivation goes away. And then I just start going through the paces. I still get upset when I lose. I still want to win. It just… isn’t worth fighting for sometimes.

This spring has been tough on me. I let myself go a bit over the winter. I weigh more than I should. I’ve been eating junk. I haven’t been exercising properly. There are no excuses. Yes, I let myself get caught up in work and neglected to take care of myself. But I think I might have needed the break. And now, I’m back into it. I’m gathering my motivation. I’m setting out to build a plan.

I’m going to take control of myself. I’m going to get my body back in shape. I’m going to eat better. And I’m going to become a better runner.

I’m not playing hockey this summer, so I’m going to run. So far I’ve done three races this spring. It’s safe to say none of the three went as planned. But they all had one thing in common. They let me taste that inner drive again.

And I want more.

Feeling this drive while running is still pretty new to me. I’ve only felt it a few times. The first was my last JV cross country race in high school. It was a weird feeling. I recognized it from playing hockey, but I wasn’t supposed to feel it running. I didn’t feel that drive while running again until about 18 years later. It was nearing the end of my first marathon. I should know exactly where in the race, but to be honest, the last eight miles or so are just a blur in my mind. But I was at a water station – my plan was to walk through the aid stations, this time I stopped to top off my water bottle. My mind was working. I knew it was late in the course. My cloudy mind was trying to figure out if it was time for more Gu, more salt tabs, or just plain water. The thoughts were all confusing because my brain and body were trashed from the abuse so far. I managed to ask the volunteer working the table how many miles I had left to go. I don’t even remember the answer. But whatever she said, it calmed my mind. I was able to center myself. I knew how long it was going to take to finish.

So I started running again.

And the inner drive came out. Something inside me set the pace and kept me moving. I crested a ridge and knew the end was near. I rounded a bend and I could see the clock. It was a ways off, and I was amazed I could actually make out numbers. I saw the clock flip over to the next minute. And that’s when that inner drive took over. I was going to make it to that finish line before this minute was up. After four hours and twenty some minutes of pounding that inner drive took over my legs, my lungs, and my heart and set them all in motion. Each moving faster in conjunction with the other. And I made it.

Now, this was my first marathon. I had only two goals: 1) Reach the start line healthy and not over trained. 2) Finish under my own power. My training runs gave me some idea about what to expect time wise, but there was no time goal in mind. At least until I saw the clock. I didn’t need to pick up and go. I would have been well within my expected finish window if I hadn’t.

But I’m a competitor. That day it was me and the clock for the final stretch. And I won. What did I win? I won a severely cramped hamstring. A cheap finishers medal that I have since misplaced. I have a t-shirt. The free beer and pizza didn’t even taste all that good. But I reveled in them. Because I won. When my mind and body were done, that inner drive took over and set a goal, and sent me in to beat it. And I was powerless to stand up for myself. Any sane person would have said, “Hey, listen self, you just ran 26-some-odd miles. There’s no point sprinting this last piece. It’s not going to matter.”

Fact is, it didn’t matter. But I’m a competitor. I have to compete.

This is getting long. Let me attempt to wrap up. I seem to have found my motivation again. This time that motivation is that inner me. The one that will drive hard the last stretch of a marathon that means nothing. That inner driver makes me feel incredible. I’ve felt it at some point in all three of my races so far this year. Once at the start. Once at the finish. And once as I was working through the combined pain of a broken toe (broken before the race started) and intestinal cramps.

I think as a species we all have some of that competitor in us. We have to. At some point it is needed for basic survival.

I urge all my readers to find their inner driver. Find your competitor. And feed that beast.

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