Monday, December 29, 2008

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional


My wife got me Haruki Murakami's book "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" and I started reading it yesterday. I am a fan of Murakami's novels and short stories and I've read many of his books. Unlike his fiction, WITAWITAR is a memoir about his running life. It would be delusional (on my part) to compare this book to my daily posts but there is similarity in that he wrote the book in "real time", recording his daily experience without the usual filter of book writing. Murakami is very quotable but I was amused by a sentence he attributed to another runner: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." What's meant by that is when you start every run it's a given that you will reach a point of discomfort or pain. But how you choose to proceed (or not) after that is your choice.

The decision to suffer played out in a low key way this morning when I went to the track to do a light run. I usually do a lighter workout on the elliptical on Mondays but I'm off from work this week so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to run outside. The weather was perfect when I got to the track and after a good night's sleep I was expecting a strong start. However, starting off, I felt tight and a little tired and I questioned whether I should have taken this as a rest day. I did my usual self bargining ("Okay, just two miles and I'll see how I feel") and I really wasn't enjoying it. After about fifteen minutes I started feeling a little stronger and by then there was another runner who proceeded to follow me and then match me stride for stride until he pulled away slightly. I was happy to have him in front of me because I could follow his pace. He looked experienced and I thought I might learn something by watching the way he ran. I was able to stay with him but after a few laps he stopped. Maybe he was just warming up or maybe he wasn't feeling it today. Perhaps he chose not to suffer. I chose to keep going and ended up running 4.4 miles finishing pretty strong. That made me happy because I'm training for a 4 mile race and I've been wanting to extend my weekend and vacation runs to at least 4 miles and/or 40 minutes.

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