“I am here now and I am okay.”
“Although we all use the phrase ‘peace of mind,’ there is really no such thing. When you are in your mind, you are never truly at peace, and when you are truly at peace, you are never in your mind.” Richard Rohr
“Do not worry about the next step. The next step will take care of itself. Each step has enough trouble of its own”. Matthew 6:34 (paraphrased)
Occasionally someone asks me “How do you possibly run 100 miles?” Or in this case, run 250 plus miles on the trails across Ohio. My answer is simple, “You run it one step at a time!” I don’t mean to be trite about it. I mean this literally. You can’t get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task!” Just like in life, it is important to have big, overarching goals, but you reach them one step at a time. Rather than think of all of the miles, I have been breaking this run down into three mile increments. I run three miles and then walk 3 tenths of a mile, and then repeat.
In ultra running and in life, we can get discouraged and overwhelmed with the future. When I am confronted with those feelings, I try to stay in the present. Break it down into smaller, more-manageable chunks. Never consider an entire task all at once. Every great accomplishment is a series of small, mundane tasks piled on top of one another to form something amazing. Just focus on the next step and then the next step and before you know it you will arrive at your destination.
Yet I struggle with staying present. I live way too much in my mind. I overthink things. When you are running this kind of mileage, if you think about what you are doing, you will be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.
So I have developed several mantras over the years to try to help me stay out of my mind and in the present. One is “I am here now and I am okay” repeated over and over again. The other one is “get out of my mind, stay present, and welcome suffering.” When I do well at staying the moment in running and in life, I find I free my mind up and can find much more enjoyment in the moment and am more open to the lessons learned from suffering. As author Margaret Wheatley says “When we recognize that our personal struggle is fundamental to being human, that everyone struggles and suffers, we begin to feel less personally victimized. We become more accepting of difficulty, less battered by bad moments.”
Today Jeff was my running partner and then my family joined me once again for the last 9 miles. It was a real pick-me-up. The trails were beautiful on this segment. I am impressed with how well the trails are maintained throughout the different municipalities. It is obvious that the communities take great pride in maintaining the trail and they are well used. It is a real gem that we have here in Ohio.