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June 7, 2010 - June 7, 2010


Runners' Stories: Motivation

Feeling Lucky?
If you view your run as an opportunity, your attitude will get an adjustment.

By Kristin Armstrong
From the May 2010 issue of Runner's World

I don't know about you, but my to-do list often rivals the length of my Target receipt. I have activities mapped out from the time my alarm sounds: Down coffee, run, pack lunches, herd kids to school, walk the dog, write and be creative on command, drink more coffee, squeeze in yoga, prep dinner, drive kids to activities, return to nest, cook, help with homework, eat, wash dishes, oversee hygiene, read stories, give tickles, say prayers, collapse (them, me). Repeat.

When I have a race on the calendar, I sprinkle in long runs and speedwork. By then my to-do list starts to look like a complicated recipe, my day broken down into cups, cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons. Sometimes I can feel the weight of my responsibilities pressing down on me, the way the X-ray apron rests heavy on my chest at the dentist.

I felt this way during a recent hard workout. I was chugging up a
hill saying to myself, I have to get up this hill. I have to finish this workout. And then all of a sudden, a few people came to mind, some sick, others struggling, and I thought about how much they would love to have the opportunity to tackle this hill. I bet they wouldn't think they had to. In the clarity of thinking that comes with adversity, they would likely say they got to run up this hill. I wondered what might happen if I started to think that way.

I decided to try it. Instead of thinking or saying, I have to finish this project or I have to pick up my kids, I stopped myself and tweaked my language: I get to work on this assignment. I get to pick up my children from school. I get to help them with homework. I get to buy groceries and make dinner for my family. I get to do speedwork. I get to take Luke to football practice. I get to go on a long run. I get to bring cupcakes up to Grace's class. I get to fold clean clothes for my children. I get to listen to Bella sing in choir. I get to run this 5-K, 10-K, half-marathon, marathon...

At first it felt forced and silly, but after a few days, it became natural. I felt freer, more thoughtful, and more aware of why I do what I do. Perhaps I had become so encumbered with my to-dos that I forgot to be thankful for the opportunity to do them. I realized that it's possible to have a reawakening about the beauty in our lives, to understand that we are so damn lucky to be healthy, to have people to love and the ability to care for them.

Since then, I've shared the idea and gotten inspiring feedback. A friend told me she felt more joy while taking care of her kids. Another told me her running group spoke in I get to language for an entire run. A woman and her friends wore "I Get To Run" T-shirts on race day. A woman running the Turkey Trot in Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving morning came up to me and said, "What a beautiful day. Aren't we lucky we get to run?"

Gratitude is contagious. It's the smallest thing, but it has the power of something big. It's a shift in perspective that can open your head and your heart. And if you want, you get to try it.


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