“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other day while entering data into my run-journal and training record, I started reviewing some of the past weeks’ numbers and looking at the short number of weeks left before my first half marathon. And without any warning at all I experienced a weird sensation that I wasn’t terribly familiar with. I’m not sure, but I think it was excitement. It was very subtle and only lasted a second. But I think that’s what I felt.
Of course with all of the raw fruits and vegetables I’ve been eating lately, it could’ve just been gas.
On several occasions in the past, different people have commented, either in curious observation or good-natured mocking, that I’m generally not very excitable. And it’s true. I’m not sure why exactly, but I rarely get markedly excited about much of anything. I don’t mean that I’m some morose sod who lacks the ability to have fun or enjoy life. That’s certainly not true. I’m the ambassador of fun dammit. I just don’t find myself acting “giddy” very often.
“You excited to start your new job Greg?” “Yeah. It’ll be good.”
“Hey Greg, you stoked about the concert tonight?” “Sure. Sounds fun.”
“Hey man. Are you excited about your trip to the moon?” “Yep. Should be cool.”
What can I say? I’m not a very boisterous person (most of the time). But I’m starting to get excited about running my first half marathon. And it feels pretty good.
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” — William Shakespeare
In the past, I believe that I may have occasionally fallen victim to a bit of a fatalist philosophy. We’ve all heard some version of the sayings, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best” or “Hope for the best, but expect the worst.” These are not awful attitudes to adopt temporarily in order to help control the anxiety of facing truly uncertain situations of which we have limited or no control. But I’m not sure there is any benefit to adopting that type of philosophy in the long term.
Sure, in the most literal and basest of senses, anything could happen at any time and technically we can never be 100% certain about what may or may not happen in the future. But that doesn’t mean that we have no control over anything at all, especially how we react to and experience the present; or more importantly, how we directly affect that present. To pretend that the existence of inherent uncertainty on the universal level should somehow excuse us from affecting our individual worlds in the most positive way possible seems silly, and kind of lazy.
I am really good at being lazy. And at times, I’m sure I’ve allowed an inadvertent fatalistic attitude to hinder my full engagement in some of life’s important moments; moments that I’ll never get back and never be allowed to experience again. That’s my loss. But it’s not my destiny. I don’t even know if I believe in destiny.
I do believe in goals.
“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.” — J.K. Rowling
I set a goal back in November to run a half marathon. At the time that I registered and paid for that event, I had not yet run a single race. I had very little knowledge of what I was getting into. All I knew was that I really liked running, it made me feel good, I wanted to keep doing it, and I felt a desire to challenge myself more. I needed to challenge myself more, both physically and mentally. On the whole, I simply felt that I needed to become a stronger person.
Why? Because I deserved to be a stronger person. I needed to set a goal that would allow me reach outside of my comfort zone and discover that better person trapped within.
My Lethargy Plan had proven itself utterly unfulfilling and wildly expensive emotionally. So I decided that I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I owed it to myself to be the strongest healthiest person I could be. I still do. I deserve to see what my full potential looks like. We all do.
So it was time for a new plan. And since no one was going to do it for me no matter how much I hoped or wished or wanted. I made my own. Waiting will get me nowhere. The future starts now.
Or maybe it started then?
Am I time traveling?
What’s going on?
You know what I mean.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.” — William Jennings Bryan
So, like I said, in November I set a goal to run a half marathon. I started reading everything that I could on healthier eating, exercise tips, running technique, and training plans. I’ve adopted a much cleaner diet and absolutely love how much better I feel as a result. I joined a gym and go at least five times a week. I focused my energy on learning how to run more efficiently and without injury (a task that may be never-ending) and I practice three or four times a week. I built a training plan to get me to my goal; my goal of reaching the starting line of my first half marathon physically healthy and mentally ready to run 13.1 miles.
I’ve followed that plan rigorously, and I’m very happy with the results thus far. I’m healthier. I feel good. My running continues to improve. I’m getting stronger. And to my pleasant surprise, I’m excited. I’m excited to do something that just six months ago I would have scoffed at and pretended wasn’t possible.
But (isn’t there always a “but”?) I can’t let this new feeling of excitement allow me to get overconfident and do something stupid. The race may only be five and half weeks away. But it is also still a whole FIVE AND A HALF WEEKS away. That’s roughly 38 days, 26 workouts, 14 training runs, and 86 scheduled running miles away. That is more than enough opportunities to fuck up if I lose focus of my goal and veer from the plan I have to achieve it. I can’t let that happen just because I’m excited.
If being excited about something was all it took to accomplish a goal, this would be a fantastically different world. Instead I’m learning that it takes focus and determination and occasionally a little sacrifice. I think the excitement just means that I’m seeing real progress towards my goal, it’s starting to come into focus, and that I might already be feeling greater personal rewards that I didn’t necessarily expect. So far, I think I like this Excitement Plan.
We’ll see what happens.
“We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.” — Douglas Coupland
It’s time to shine.