I've realized this week that I am very much driven by results. I like to have tangible, maybe statistical, evidence that I am progressing in some way, be it as an athlete or as a person.
I've attempted to satisfy this vice in many ways over the past few years: In school I pursued the mastery of a foreign language, through which I could daily display deeper understanding or, perhaps, I would find myself floundering. At this point, I would concede that I needed to do conjugation repeats, or spend an hour or two just writing stories, which I would then reread an analyze every grammar concept that I attempted to use, identifying what qualified that as necessary in it's context, or maybe hit up the thesaurus to find words that helped avoid redundancy or enhanced the flow and made my works more cohesive. It's a never-ending pursuit, I'll never be the best, but I'll be better than I was.
And then there was running. It's really no surprise to me at all that participation in running events is on the rise across nearly every demographic in America. I mean, think about it, the "American Dream" boasts that progress is desirable and can be interminable. We are taught from grade school that we should be recognized for our progress and achievement. We strive, in whatever we do, to surpass arbitrary limits (often self-imposed) and redefine our paradigm of what it means to be "me". Thus, we run. We go for a jog around the block, we sign up for a 5k, we redefine "me". I guess the new "me" is a runner now, maybe not a runner, but now I know that I can run. We then realize that there will always be someone faster than us. But, HA!, progress can continue, because regardless of how fast everyone else may be, I can always become faster than that other "me".
One of the things running offers to an individual is the opportunity to have endless progress at their fingertips, and it comes with ever-present accountability. There are umpteen different distances to run, now do them faster, more confidently. There's an infinite number of routes, all of which you can run faster than you did today. And if you don't, just retrace your (figurative) steps towards progress by glancing at a training log, or by reflecting on a day you lounged around watching Netflix instead of getting out and taking ownership of your benchmarks and dreams.
I guess this is one of the main reasons that this blog exists at all. I feel like when my goals and steps towards progress are published here and shared with all who read it, it helps to solidify those dreams and past activities as a part of the "me".
Like I said, this week I discovered that I'm driven by my progress. This is how it came about: There is snow everywhere here. I could run, there are some well-packed trails, I have waterproof shoes, but it feels a bit more tedious than I tend to like it. All of my standby routes, on which I routinely monitor my progress, take significantly longer than normal and, thus, I don't receive the same gratification with their completion.
I was often asked upon arriving in Leadville, "You can't really run through the winter here... what the heck are you going to do??" I kinda thought that if I really couldn't run, I'd just sit and wish I could run. As I was saying, there is snow everywhere. Wednesday I put on a pair of skis for the first time and went out for a couple of hours with some friends and had a blast. Thursday morning I went again for a couple of hours, then another hour that night. I watched some youtube videos and the likes on Classic Cross-Country Skiing technique was completely entranced by the ease with which these folks could propel themselves. Friday, I went out and packed down a .5 mile track that I skied repeatedly, practicing the techniques I had seen and heard of, getting better every time. Saturday and Sunday were more of the same, making the motions more fluid and effortless, practicing my balance, and practicing techniques at higher speeds(ouch).
Needless to say, I'm hooked. Hooked on cross country skiing, hooked on progressing. I'm going to ski mo' and mo', to the point where I will be able to race confidently in the Breckebeiner 60k at the end of March.