Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paths Less Traveled

In case you are just now tuning in, I have quite the extensive list of new year's resolutions I'm working on...some are going much MUCH better than others. Anyway, one of my end-of-the-year goals is to enter a distance run (hoping for a half marathon, but that is yet to be determined at this point.) In keeping with that, I have been scheduling a lot more running into my weekdays.
I've been big into running since high school, falling on and off the wagon between trying college semesters and baby rearing, respectively. But most of the running I've done in the past has been for leisure. Of course, there were fitness goals intermixed, but for the most part I just enjoyed a chance to hear my feet hit the pavement, clear my head, and get a little lost in my own thoughts. I never really mapped out my routes or tracked my times. I just laced up my sneakers and went where the paths looked the most inviting.
That has changed a bit now. I usually throw my kids in childcare to head to the gym, and I am very aware of the amount of time I have to be on the treadmill if I want to squeeze in the rest of my workout. I am constantly checking time, distance, calories, heart rate--it's all a numbers game. If I am running at home, I have already mapped out my training route and know which sections I will use for interval runs, etc. I enjoy this type of running too, but it is very different and much more regimented than the runs I was used to before.
A few weeks ago, I put the kids in childcare and decided to do a quick run near my house. I headed toward my usual route to find it blocked by Military Police officiers barricading the entrance to parade field. Not wanting to call it quits, I made a sudden decision to turn into a neighborhood alongside and try to box my way around to get back on course.
What seemed like it would be a simple solution wound up getting me temporarily lost. It turns out that the neighborhood streets I had entered did not box around like I thought they would, but instead weaved in and out of different subdivisions. Though I generally knew where I was, I didn't know how to get out and I wasn't ready to backtrack. So instead, I decided to have a blast from my own past and just run. Giving up control of my route, I let myself be led by the winding sidewalks. I ran where the pathways looked the prettiest and went on a little mid-afternoon adventure exploring new places. Eventually, the sidewalks spit me out near the track of my usual route, but much further down it. I was able to take the track the rest of the way home. When I got back from my run, I checked my time and realized that I had gone farther than I ever had up to that point and I had completed it faster. I had accomplished much more than I ever had because I had let go of my plans and let myself get a little lost.

How true this is in all areas of our lives! We can miss out on so many beautiful opportunities because we feel like they are "not part of the plan." I have come to find that sometimes 'detours' ARE the plan. Some of the best things in my life came to me by accident--when my pathway was blocked or my original plan was compromised. Some of my biggest accomplishments happened because I agreed to temporarily let go of my own control over the situation and simply be led. Perhaps the pathways I took were not always the "prettiest." At times, I have certainly felt a little lost. But I have always come out to find the track that leads me home.

I feel like I am currently at a point in my life where so many major details are uncertain, up in the air, and pending the outcome of something else. Seems like a good time for me to quit worrying about details, stop trying to map the exact route, and just simply enjoy the run.

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