I was exhausted. I really wasn’t fully prepared for this 5K trail run. Unlike road running, trails offer potential danger in every stride. The extensive network of exposed tree roots and randomly placed stones, all covered with leaves still wet from the heavy rains from the night before, made a challenging course that much more challenging.
Running, for me, is equal parts physical and mental. Sometimes the body is willing but the mind works to convince it that it’s not. On this particular day my mind, too, was racing. The wet, uneven terrain gave it lots to talk to me about. Lots of inner resistance to work through.
The week prior I had hiked this particular preserve just to get more familiar with the trail. On that hike I unexpectedly came upon a small waterfall, fed from the gentle stream behind it. As I stood on the small wooden bridge the water continued to pass under me and then on down stream, gravity taking the water to wherever it was going to go, it’s flow and path greatly influenced by the obstacles it found on the way.
You can learn a lot from water.
The water and the runner shared something in common. We both met resistance on our paths. But the type of resistance we each faced was dramatically different.
Unlike me, the water wasn’t working against itself.
Water never works against itself. Any resistance water faces is always external, always outside of itself. It’s the stones and branches and boundaries and gravity which determine where the water will go. Water never fearfully looks down stream and worries about where it is going and if it will ever get there. It just goes where it goes, never working against itself.
A stark contrast to my running style, where the mind can greatly influence if I even continue to move forward. Much of my resistance is internal. It’s often me working against me, fearfully looking up a hill and doubting if I’ll be able to run up it without stopping.
How often do we allow our thoughts to work against us? Not just in running up hills but in running our lives? How often does our mind create an inner resistance to our own efforts to keep moving forward, to climb up the hills life can often place before us?
Our greatest resistance is almost always self-inflicted.
When we are not working against ourselves we are better able to work through and around those external obstacles standing between who we are and who we really want to be.
Maybe its time to think like water?