For the last four months I have been training to run a 30km race. It would have been the furthest distance I have ever run and something I had been looking forward to since I decided to run it last summer. I created a training plan, did all the research I needed, talked to friends who have run the distance (and longer) and was all ready to train.
From mid-May to mid-August I trained, every Sunday morning I’d run distances of 15k to 26k and although it was difficult, I did it.
Exactly seven days before my race Alan and I were walking to lunch and I tripped up a concrete curb and bashed my right foot so hard I sprained my fourth toe (surprisingly, all other toes were completely unaffected!).
The morning before my race I decided to test my toe and go for my first run since I sprained it. I tentatively put my running shoes on and went out for a very easy run around the neighbourhood. I realized very quickly that if my race would have me finish in an hour or less I probably could have done it as my toe didn’t hurt very much at all but I was planning to be out there for close to four hours. My feet would swell, constricting blood flow to my toe and possible cause some seriously painful cramping. I had no idea how that would affect the healing of my toe and decided that racing for such a long period of time wouldn’t be such a good idea so I spent the rest of my run dealing with the disappointment.
Disappointment sucks. As children we throw tantrums when we’re disappointed and I know plenty of adults that do the same but seeing as it’s an inevitable part of our lives we might as well learn how to deal with it! Disappointment is simply the feeling we get when we can’t do what we’ve been wanting to do and that’s just not a fun feeling at all and it can be very hard to get over it if we spend a lot of time focusing on it. I think a lot of this ties in very nicely with the Buddhist philosphy of letting go. The main tenant of Buddhist philosophy is that all life is suffering and that we suffer because we desire. By “desire” they mean that we attach ourselves to people and things with a ferocious determination but Buddhists are smart to understand that nothing, absolutely nothing, lasts forever.
Things are things and can be lost, destroyed or just plain forgotten about. People, whether through time or death, do not loast. For many people who aren’t Buddhist this seems to be a pretty bleak way of seeing things but I happen to think the exact opposite. For Buddhists, knowing that all things are impermanent, that everything dies in one way or another, they live solely in the moment, being grateful instead of fearful for what they have right here, right now. To me, it’s one of the purest ways to live! There is no jealousy, envy or disappointment because they already know that at some point they won’t have it anyway so if it doesn’t happen or it goes away, they’ve expected it yet were able to enjoy it for what it was when they had it so there’s no need for sadness.
Pretty cool, eh?
I admit that I have a long way to go to experience that way of thinking. I get excited about a lot of things and when they don’t go as planned or don’t happen at all, I get really disappointed. But during my “test run”, when I realized that this race was just not happening, I decided to reframe my thoughts. Instead of being upset about not racing, I acknowledged that it sucked but that’s just the way it is and thought about the reason why I decided to run 30k in the first place. Like any new distance I’ve endeavoured to run I decided to register because I merely wanted to SEE if I could do it. When I decided to run my first 5k back in 2008 I did it because I had no idea if I could. After I found out that I could, I started to see if I could run a 10k, a 15k, a half marathon and then the 30k. Well, I spent the last four months training for this 30k, my final long run was 26k and although it was really difficult, I knew that if I could run 26k I could run 30k. I have no doubt about it. So in the end, I have accomplished my goal and one day in the future I will train again to get to that finish line.
I also looked forward. This was to be my last endurance race until about 2013 so I could focus on other things and now I can get started with it. I love nothing more than having a new goal on the horizon and starting the action steps to achieve it so instead of wallowing in pity, I looked ahead and pumped myself up for what the next year will bring.
Instead of wallowing in disappointment, remind yourself that all things are impermanent and be grateful for what you have in the moment. Reframe your thoughts and move on!