Monday, February 11, 2013

Adapting, self-discipline and a better me

Jez Bragg recently completed a run the full length of the Te Araroa trail. The trail starts at the tip of the North Island of New Zealand and finishes at the tip of the South Island. It is 3054 kilometers (1898 miles) and he completed it in 53 days – the fastest ever – completely under human power either running or kayaking. I watched a video where he talked about being amazed at his body’s ability to adapt to the long distances he ran day after day.

I haven’t run 1898 miles in 53 days. I fell 500 miles short of that all of last year. But I am still amazed at my body’s ability to adapt to increased mileage. In the last couple of weeks my long runs have gone from 8 miles to 12 miles to 14 miles in just three weeks. I’ve added speed work at the same time. Last week I thought I was probably overdoing it because my hamstrings, especially my right one was hurting. It was bad enough that on Wednesday what I did at the track could better have been categorized as “faster than a jog” work.

But this weekend I ran 14 miles again and I felt strong throughout the whole run. Then I ran 5 Sunday and felt like normal – almost like I hadn’t run a long run the day before.

It’s not just a physical thing. It is mental as well. I knew in my head that when I stepped out this morning that my legs would be dead and because of it I didn’t want to go. But I went anyway. I ran over Telock Blangah hill and my legs were surprisingly fresh. I am glad my brain didn't keep me from running. Some mornings it would have.

I think about Lent starting this week. The body has to adapt to the Lenten fast. It can be physical, and mental. But adapting to the physical change and the mental shifts that have to occur are part of what changes me for the better spiritually. Making my mind and body do something that is not easy or comfortable make me a better me.

In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves... self-discipline with all of them came first. Harry S. Truman

Self-respect is the root of discipline: the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.
Abraham Joshua Heschel

I was worried about building up to The Maze, but I think I will be just fine. I have to pay attention and not take advantage of my body’s adapting to high mileage by overdoing a good thing. If I can keep pushing myself out of the door in a sensible self-disciplined way I’ll be okay.

Same with Lent, I have to pay attention to everyday discipline and when Easter gets here I will be a better me.