Meep! Meep!

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI was working my slow-but-steady way up a killer hill on my running route, when I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to see my neighbor churning up the hill behind me.

“Hey, there!” I said.

“Oh, good. I didn’t want to startle you,” he said. ” I always worry about that when I come up behind someone to pass them.”

“Yeah,” I said with a smile, as he swiftly moved by me. “That’s not a problem I have to worry about!”

He laughed and we exchanged a few quick comments about the first day of school (he’s a teacher, too) and then he was out of earshot, zooming down the road.

I felt myself picking up my pace, instinctively responding to his lead.

“But wait,” I thought after a moment. “What am I doing? I don’t even want to go faster.”

I deliberately eased up a bit, sliding back into my regular pace.

Speed is so attractive, isn’t it? It seems like a solid measure of accomplishment. I suppose you could argue that it wouldn’t hurt me to run faster, and it probably wouldn’t. But I’ve worked hard to be less focused on the numbers in running. I no longer keep track of the miles I run, I don’t time myself, etc. I am just out there because, crazily enough, I enjoy the process. It’s good for my body and my brain. Running faster is something I’ve tried and not enjoyed. It’s not a good fit for me, at least not right now. So why would I get pulled back into that vortex just because the roadrunner spun by?

There are many things you can work on as a runner–form, speed, distance, etc. I’m a very casual runner. To be honest, much of what I’m working on when I’m running is my writing. I tumble thoughts and words over in my head, searching for combinations, sparks of ideas, trains of thought, etc. My goals for restarting running this summer were pretty basic and looked something like this:

  1. Don’t injure myself
  2. Run frequently
  3. Gradually increase distance (and that means from 2 miles to maybe 3.5)

I’ve done well with these goals and I’m perfectly satisfied with my less than record-breaking pace…until someone comes along and breezes right by me.

This moment reminded me that it’s all too easy to get pulled off course by a speedy runner, a flashy new idea or the pull of curricular demands. As school starts today, I have a few solid goals in mind for the year. These goals are tailored to my strengths and needs and will certainly adjust to meet the strengths and needs of my new class. And sure, I’m flexible and open to new ideas coming along, and I know I need to meet the demands of the curriculum, but my run yesterday reminded me that keeping my goals in the forefront is important — pursuing someone else’s goals, not so much.

So when that speedy runner or bright new idea comes along, I have to consciously remind myself that I’m doing what I need and want to do. Their agenda isn’t necessarily mine. But it can take some work to remind myself of that.

12 thoughts on “Meep! Meep!

  1. margaretsmn says:

    “Their agenda is not necessarily mine.” I love the conviction of this line. I’m not by nature a competitive person but I live with one. And two of my daughters are. It’s easy to get sucked into it, but I’ve come to know that it doesn’t work for me. Slow and steady…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Adrienne says:

    I don;t run, but the running idiom I like to use is “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”. It applies to so many things in life, but especially to education.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love how you made the teaching/running connection. Do all teachers run? I think not, but I ran in the early morning dark before school. With kids, it was the one time to run. It was an inexpensive form of exercise, perfect for teachers. I always felt so good when I finished that the “pain” was hardly noticed. Run Jane Run. Do they have classic copies of the Dick and Jane reading stories at your school?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I never thought I would like running, but as you say, it’s inexpensive and it’s also efficient! The latter was my main draw and then, much to my surprise, I found I really liked doing it! (Not many copies of Dick and Jane floating around my school!)


  4. dmsherriff says:

    Brilliant! So many things to love! I am a runner on hiatus having become addicted to my local Burn Boot Camp. When I do run it is, like you said, simply for the joy of the process. You pull this altogether with that last paragraph which is a valuable reminder to stay focused (but not too focused) and present with what is in front of you…the children! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gradual increases are what lead to long term success. Good on you for remembering that!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mukhamani says:

    Very true, we go for regular walks in the evening and I go at my pace 🙂 For me walking is just not the exercise, I love to look at the flowers and the clouds and stop to talk to an old lady who has become a friend. Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

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