Now, I don't know how many runners I have reading this, but I am not one of you. Many of my old Marine Corps buddies would testify to the fact that I'm more of a pack mule than a runner. Now, with that being said, I do love the experience of running. Once I am able to convince my brain and my body that this initially painful experience is good for me I really get into it and, like many of you, I have a fancy tracker that shows me how many steps I've taken, miles I've traveled, my heart rate, and how "fast" I'm running.
I'm not sure if this happens to anyone else, but for me, I do some of my best thinking while I'm running. I don't know if it’s the outside air, blood-flow, or endorphin release (probably all of the above), but I connect some of the craziest things while I run. Here's a scenario of what I'm talking about. I think many of you can relate to this, so just for a moment, put yourself in my literal running shoes.
It was about 8:30 in the morning on what was going to be a blistering summer day here in Colorado. It was still early enough to where the heat wasn't quite yet at its peak, so I convinced myself to go for a jog. I usually have to start off walking and then I'll trot before breaking into a full out jog, so I headed out of the neighborhood and onto the running trail by our house.
As I get about a quarter mile away from my front yard, panic sets in. I looked down at my wrist and realized, I forgot my watch! I contemplated turning back around and grabbing it, but then realized that I would have already run a half mile that wouldn't count toward my step count. "POINTLESS", I thought... So, I took a deep, relenting breath, begrudgingly looked up at the path in front of me, and carried on with my run without my tracker... I guess this run just doesn't count...
Sounds kinda ridiculous?? Does to me! Anyone else live and die by the feeling of noticed achievement? You're in good company! What I felt in that moment was that this run, for some reason, wasn't going to be as valuable or as productive without my tracking device. That if I couldn't look down at my watch and see the mileage, steps, and heart rate variations, that it didn't happen at all.
Like I said earlier, my mind goes a bit crazy while I run. I was about 3 miles into it and feeling really good. I had forgotten all about the tracking device that was sitting on my dresser. Instead of looking at my watch every 10 minutes, I was looking at everything around me. Each tree I passed was a different and amazing color of green. The mountains were as clear as I'd ever seen them and the lake I ran by already had a few people reeling in tiny trout - all of which I may have missed while tracking my steps.
So, I began to correlate what I was experiencing to life. I tend to get so wrapped up in the achievement of things that I can miss the important things going on around me. I can get so caught up in worrying about tracking my achievements, that I miss the adventure of achieving. Achievement isn't the enemy here - it's the obsession with others acknowledging these achievements that gets us in trouble.
So, my advice here is simple and aimed directly at my own thought process. Your steps count. Whether they are tracked, acknowledged, or seen is irrelevant. YOU made steps toward becoming a better you. YOU know what your goals are and why you are working so hard. Every step you take toward those goals is a step away from the negative things you are leaving behind. But, if you are able to take your mind off of tracking these steps and just keep moving forward, you will find beauty and growth along the way.