The course is not marked and the playlist is on shuffle

“Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you if you look closely enough.”
-Hal Higdon, running coach and author

I’m training for my 22nd Twin Cites 10 Mile Race and have done every one since the start. Last year only 17 of us had done every single one. The Race would have been this morning. It is virtual this year and we have a month to choose a date to run it. The 10 Mile Race had a set course. You could see a mile marker, look at your watch, see your time and know if you are track. You knew where the hard hills were and when to mentally gear up for them. It had not gotten physically easier for me to run this race. However, every year it was easier mentally because I knew the course. I knew how to pace myself.

When I train for the race, I don’t like to look at my running app. I had a set ordered playlist on my phone and a set training course. I knew I should be at my marker at Cedar Lake when Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin comes on. I knew if I didn’t hear Love Struck Baby by Stevie Ray Vaughn at my marker at Lake of Isles I was running really, really slow. I moved so I’m running new courses for my training. Also a few weeks ago I put my playlist on shuffle.

Maybe like me you feel like the playlist for the whole world has been put on shuffle. There is no predictable order and we have no idea what song will play next. The songs are not even on our phones! We might also feel we are running an entirely new course as we navigate through every day. There are no markers to tell us where we should be. There are many more hard hills and we don’t know where they are. We might feel like we always need to be mentally prepared for the news of the day. No one knows know how long this race to the end of the virus will be. What helps pick up the pace for runners is when we can finally see the finish line. There is no finish line in sight. This why we really need to pace ourselves.

I miss the runners and people cheering me on race day. I’m trying to find positive things, I don’t have to run 10 miles on payment (see above from last year where I’m not picking up my feet much) which hurts my knees. I can do the race anytime of the day I want. No getting up at 5 AM on race day! We are all running a new course and need to take it one step at time. When we run a race and only think about the finish, we miss the good things that happen along the way. There are good things still happening. Mindfulness is so needed right now. Especially when running an unknown course, staying in the present moment is important. We will look back on this race as one of great learning for us all.

“When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.”
—Doris Brown Heritage, women’s distance running pioneer