Of course (and unfortunately) we all typically do get to experience life without our favorite activities. Injury can stop you cold. So can circumstances such as work changes or family needs. Then we muddle through life without running and riding.
In those periods it feels like a dark cloak is covering our energies. In some ways it also acts like an invisibility cloak. We tend to pull back from our social connections such as run clubs and group rides whenever injury, illness or circumstance stops us from running and riding. We long to recover our full selves.
Those of us that have been at this running and riding thing a long time go through phases in our running and riding careers.
There’s the DISCOVERY phase when everything is new and difficult and exciting.
Next comes the DEVELOPMENT stage when the miles add up to better proficiency as a running or cyclist.
With those two growth patterns under our belts, we engage in the PERFORMANCE mode of the running and cycling worlds. Some of us race or do challenging events to celebrate our involvement in the sport.
Then along comes the MATURITY stage where you weigh your values and your goals. You begin to answer questions about what it really means to do these sports. This phase can last a long time and still incorporates elements of development and performance.
Maturity blends into ACTUALIZATION in which your running and riding are truly woven into your being. You process life through the lens of effort and training and discipline. The things you learn about your self are well-applied to other pursuits. Sometimes you pick up a third sport like swimming or weightlifting along the way. The transfer of experience and discipline to these other events is part of the actualization process.
When you’re fully into this game you reach the GRATITUDE zone. That’s where you truly pick up on the pleasures and challenges that make running and riding special. Being grateful for the ability to enjoy your favorite sports is a glorious journey. It wakens your senses to both thrills and absorption of the moment.
If you are so lucky and skilled to move through each of these stages early in your running and riding career, the entire arc of your active life can be truly blessed. That’s when you can turn to your friends and even your rivals to proclaim, “I really LOVE this!”
And that is how you enter the world of ENLIGHTENMENT in your running and riding. That’s when you know how to work with fatigue and pain and movement and motivation all at once. It may be no easier to stick to the wheel of the rider ahead of you, or to hold on through the middle miles of a marathon. But in your enlightened state you know how to draw on every muscle and every reserve.
When you’ve done your best in the enlightened state, you really know for sure. Of course some people move into a world where they know every movement and moment is their absolute best. If you know one of those people, do not envy their state of mind. Emulate it. Learn from it. Grow and go through all the phases if necessary to get where yo want to be.
And then love it. Because that’s what it’s all about. Loving it.