Running Life Resiliently

by Ben Heller

I thank everyone who read the article last month about how the concepts of running can apply to everyday life. It was cathartic to share some of those things with you my fellow running enthusiasts. I have debated if I wanted to continue this series and explore my journey with the world. I decided that if I can draw inspiration from running and how it can influence everyday life, I will continue to share with you my experiences and reflections in the hope that someone out there can benefit from them.

For myself, 2020 is all about emotional and personal growth. That is quite a daunting topic for someone who has 30 years of unhealthy emotional practice engrained in their being. It can sometimes look like trying to scale up a mountain with no visible peak. I can say with clarity that my unhealthy behaviors and emotional outlooks have damaged the people in my life, sometimes very severely, and subjected my friends in the running community to some very precarious situations where they witnessed some of my most destructive behavior. In the article on discipline, I discussed the idea of living life in the lead pack, and not as a straggler. Emotionally I have been a straggler and still find myself in that part of the pack in the race of life.

Even as recently as in the past few weeks, I have emotionally dealt with setbacks akin to rolling an ankle in a 5k. It pains me to write that, but to be accountable to myself and this world, I must confess this with a clear mind. I have stumbled quite a bit, especially as I process the many complex issues that my being has faced during my time on earth.

You are reading this and of course you’re saying to yourself, yes Ben, you have problems, but why is this relevant to running? What can I possibly learn from you talking about your darn problems?  This is relevant to running because in order to enact the changes I am trying to make within myself, I am calling on behaviors, traits and aspects of a successful running practice to guide me.

Using Resiliency as a Building Block:

If we look at running/life like baking a fresh loaf of bread, then resiliency is the gluten. It is that substance that binds the molecules together to generate that consistency in the bread. Resiliency binds the mind, body, and soul in a way so that when we face challenging circumstances, our lives can go on. It may take days, weeks, months, or sometimes even years. Whatever the timeframe, a resilient being will always get back up when knocked down. 

Have you ever had a bad race, I mean a really-bad race? A race so bad that you don’t even want to look at yourself in the mirror for a few days because of the disappointment and disgust you feel. We have all been in those shoes (pardon my pun) to a certain extent. I can name several races in my own past that fit this framework. The disappointment and disgust still is fresh in mind as I watched my competition gallop away from me as I chase them, ever so distantly, in vain. Maybe I am alone, but I have had races that defeated me so totally that I questioned whether I should bother to ever race again. Well, as long as I am blessed to remain healthy, I will keep lacing my racers up and showing up to the start line.

If you are reading this article, it is likely that you did not just hang your shoes up and quit running because you had a bad race. No, you called on something to get you back out the door, to get you to line up on another starting line, despite the very real fear that a repeat of the disaster race could happen. All of us as runners take that risk when we lace up the racers and show up to a race.

You wouldn’t have the ability to take that step without calling on your own resiliency. Maybe you never realized it, but for you to take that step, you called on that trait to keep going. Do you see how this can come back 360 degrees?

Life’s problems are in many ways no different than that bad race. You take some time to reflect on what happened. What were the circumstances that led to what you perceived to be an underperformance? Were there factors you could control, and factors that you couldn’t control? You analyze the results and chart a new path forward. There are no promises that you won’t face another disappointment, but you don’t let that fear stop you. This resiliency and boldness are traits we all have.

The inertia of our lives can sometimes be totally overwhelming. Just like a bad race, life can throw us circumstances that knock us down. Maybe these circumstances will generate those same bad race emotions and reactions. But if you can lace up the shoes after a bad race, then you can bounce back from anything that happens in life. We all get a chance to practice resiliency every day that we are fortunate enough to breathe.

So, my friends, take these words with hope and optimism. When life is dark and gloomy, remember that in running there are lessons that we can carry with us in our lives. If you can remember the resiliency of running, then you can navigate through any fog you encounter in this world.

In our lives, we will all face risks, we all will face dealing with failure, and we all will deal with pain and trauma to a certain extent. I am thankful that I can always look towards running as both a guide and an inspiration. If resiliency is the gluten, then running is the yeast. It raises the best traits in all of us.


Running and Life Archive:

Life has a Finish Line; Running Can Help You to Cross it Victoriously

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