The shifting self

Speedier times, still me

Great run with Toby in the park yesterday. After getting injured and moving away Central Park became a different country I hardly visit any more. Feels like comin’ home, as the great Robert Cray sang in Morristown (NJ) the other day.

The rain was light, the park was quiet, the trails were bouncy, and Toby had insight. Always good to talk with a sub 2:20 marathoner, friend of the Kenyans, coach and guy who once thought he would never run again, when running life is a struggle. He could tell I was still viewing myself pre-injury. I still long for a speedy 5K, a 1:22 half (soon!) and a sub-3 (Boston?!) That’s not just unreasonable, but unwise. Expecting things of myself now which I was able to do in June 2011 would inevitably lead to disappointment and more pain.

So I imagine earlier times when my self-image shifted. I was once a heavy, and heavy, smoker. That changed as I lost weight, hair and the need to cigarettes all at once. I became a half-decent runner, enjoying what this new passion brought me: balance, health, joy, new eating habits, new friends, and real freedom from the controlling, conniving Master which nicotine had become in my brain. As I started running for real the old self seemed like a bad dream, unreal.

All I have to do now is adjust, as so many of us do when they are injured. I am a beginner again. Searching, trying, learning. I am  a slow runner. The watch does not matter. I just run, watching my form and feeling my shifting boundaries. It’s my luck that I have the recent picture of my self as a reference; no need to go back to the self-loathing, heavier me who smelled like an ashtray. I am still –again– the Running Dutchman.

I write about all of this in my new Dutch column. Here is a video, courtesy of Toby. Many great images and ideas about running, coaching and Kenia. And below, a re-posting of a video I love. To remind us how ‘a little inspiration’, a choice, can have huge consequences.

Have a great weekend.

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