This article was first published in my community blog Life Goes On for the St. Albert Gazette.
It’s an interesting experience when we see our grown children doing stuff that we used to do. Last weekend we cheered on our daughter and her friends as they ran their first race of the season. Back in the day my hubby and I were runners who ran races. We did a few marathons and hung out with other runners. Sunday mornings often found us worshipping at the church of the 10k. I was a middle of the pack runner at best but that was just fine.
Watching our daughter and her friends waiting for the race to start, I thought, “Here we are passing the torch to the next generation.”
That thought was quickly followed by a question:
Why am I not still carrying the torch?
A rather challenging marathon experience for both hubby and I one fall several years ago made it easy to step away from running for the winter. Life was busy with the kids and Sunday mornings were filled with soccer practices and dance recitals. We both unconsciously decided our race days were done. Sure we did a little running off and on over the years, but when you don’t have a race date it’s easy to slack off. I stopped thinking of myself as a runner and began thinking of myself as someone who runs once in a while.
How we think about something creates our experience of it. Runners are notorious for comparing themselves to others. That’s problem enough. But the real sticky place is when we compare ourselves to our former selves.
A couple of years ago we did the Run for the Cure as a family. Not surprisingly all three of our daughters have become runners. Instead of being fully present to the experience, as I ran along I replayed my greatest 5k moments in my head. As runs go, that day definitely didn’t live up to the past ones. That’s probably when I put down the torch for good.
Mindfulness of the present moment can help us avoid being held hostage by past glories. It’s easy to slip out of what is happening now and think about a time we were faster or stronger or smarter or more something. We rob ourselves of the opportunity to fully experience what is right in front of us.
Will I run a 10k as fast as I did in my 30’s? Not likely.
But I can probably run a 10k faster now than I will in my 80’s. That’s only if I actually do it. So I think I’m passing the torch back to myself. It used to be about pace and negative splits and all kinds of things measured in minutes. My new race philosophy is more about mindfulness in moments. That pretty much guarantees a personal best every time.
What did your former self do better than you?
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