In an ultra, as in life, there are times that we will want to give up. To throw in the towel. But with most of these situations, all it takes is to step back and take a little time to evaluate the circumstances.
In my last post , I talked about the need to be able to take the punches that life throws at you. How we need to be ready for anything, that we sometimes have that moment that changes everything. The truth is that we cannot be 100% prepared for every situation, but we must be ready as much as possible.
Since that post, I have had one of those moments. Well, not exactly ONE moment, but a series of moments that I am having troubles coming to terms with.
When we are deep into the race and something happens that completely upends our strategy, we have to face that problem head on. The same goes for life. We occasionally need to reset our personal strategies and plans. But how?
Going head first and attacking the problem is almost never the solution. We must first take a step back and clear our heads. Reacting instantly is reacting with emotion, not reason. Emotional reactions rarely get us anywhere. Sometimes they actually set us back a bit.
I recently read “Stillness is the Key” by Ryan Holiday. In the opening chapter, he discusses President Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis. When Kennedy was faced with the problem, many of his advisors were suggestion knee jerk reactions that could have costs to great to count. He chose to step back and ask what the Russians were planning. Did they want all out war?
His choice in that time of crisis was to include some quiet in his day. Think about that, the world is on the brink of total annihilation and the man who can stop it decides to take a walk in the rose garden. Once he stepped back and chose to try to understand the entire situation without all the noise of the so-called advisors, the solution started to come.
A side note here, Kennedy wrote a thank you note to the gardener for her help in the crisis. Always thank the people who help you, no matter how big the contribution.
This is what we must do. Seek to understand the entire situation and the feelings of all involved and then come to a resolution.
One thing that I have alway admired about my wife was her ability to sit or work in silence. When we first got married, I couldn’t even sleep without the TV on. She could blissfully go about her business all day without any background noise. I think that’s why she has always been the level headed one. My mind is just too cluttered from all the background noise. (I even have to have soft music playing as I write.)
When I am facing something, I tend to react emotionally. She, on the other hand, is the model of calm. I can only dream of the day that I have that focus. For now, I will just keep practicing.
I have heard it said that the difference between a finish and did not finish is the way the runner and crew handle all the crap that the day throws at them. It seems almost zen like to me, watching how some people handle these situations. Like they are enlightened.
On race day, and in life, I hope to be able to keep that calm demeanor that those people have. For now, I will keep seeking that peace.