The greatest hindrance

Day #67: What’s the greatest hindrance to your dream performance and how can you overcome it??

by Patrick Reed

“When our dreams and our reality meet face to face – most often around mile 23 in the marathon, we discover who we are  — and the person we were afraid of becoming, in our soft daily acquiescence, disappears.”

I had a great run yesterday. Starting from my house, I coursed the half mile around our lake to the park which lay in the lap of Madonna Mountain’s slopes just across from where I sit now as I type. I wore my heart rate monitor, and my half mile stats came in just as I hit the first dirt trails of the run: “7:39 minutes per mile; Average heart rate: 142 beats per minute…” Yes! I was right on pace, finally synched in with my monitor and my target heart rate. I pushed on…

The course winds up a fairly steep knob before it levels off a bit at mile 1.5. Then, it is up steep switchbacks for another half mile before reaching about 600 feet of altitude higher than my house — and then I take the undulating route around the waist of the mountain. Upon reaching the backside, I entered the notable “Rock Garden” – beloved by mountain bikers who insanely descend the narrow, rock strewn chutes – which I now ran up – at breakneck speeds. As I climbed, I noticed the mountain biker tracks zagging and imagined multiple friends plummeting the course. When I finally had the chance to ascend higher, I decided I had the time and so I began to run up to the summit of the mountain. At just 5 miles from my front door, I made it — my heart still just clicking along at an average of 145 bpm. I am figuring this monitor thing out, I smiled.

The air was cool on top – maybe 52 degrees fahrenheit – just a hint of the rain that had softened up the trails the day before, and there were no other runners in sight. Just me, my footsteps, a great interview with Dr. Tim Noakes about hydration (on the TrailRunnerNation Podcast - which is a favorite of mine for my medium-long runs), and the vast landscapes splaying out before me at every turn and the whole grand vista all at once up here on top – now at 1280 feet of altitude above my house. I had to stop to shoot a picture of the beauty of the scene (below with my iPhone4s). How fortunate am I, I rejoiced, to be able to run to this spot from my house! I have not always been so fortunate…

top of madonna tweaked

Indeed, none of us will be so fortunate as to ever enjoy the victories and joys of today’s run and today’s triumphs. For always there beckons injury, burnout, defeat, fear, betrayal and a patient despair. The pitfalls of defeat linger in the shadows. In this humanity we share, there is a finitude of sweetness which gives life its very allure. I got to thinking upon these lines after my run – only because, upon descending the “Rock Garden” and dropping off of the verdant slopes of Madonna, I suddenly felt the slightest pinging on the outside of my left foot. This is the site of my achilles injury of two years ago which stopped me in my tracks for a full year. It was the most minute of pin-prick sensations I felt at the end of yesterday’s run, but I have enough sense to have the fear replenished instantaneously, and to be suddenly reminded of the tenuousness of my running joys.

This propelled me to my question for you in this post: what is the greatest hindrance to your dream performance and how will you overcome it? What threatens your dreams and actually keeps you from daring to dream them for real?? Out loud. As I have stated before, I dream of competing in the Badwater Ultra – 135 miles of bliss mixed with torture from Death Valley’s fiery furnace to the steep, middle slopes of Mt. Whitney. And what is the greatest threat – in my mind – to this achievement? An achilles rupture at mile 80. Yup – if I have to give my greatest running fear a name, that’s it: “Achilles Rupture at Mile 80.”

Can you name your fear? Your enemy? The threat? Do you know that in living under the power of such an unnamed threat your ability to truly dream is deferred to some other, weaker choice? But when we name our adversary we can prepare for battle. When we identify the reason for our wavering, we can start to pursue its demise.

Once we know our true fear, we can name our true desire. Our Badwater, Everest, Marathon, Fiancee, Degree, Dream job, you get the point.

So, once we have named our nemesis and spoken out loud our goals with no more blinders to confuse and distort our aims, how do we finally overcome and win? For me, this translates to How am I going to train for and finish the Badwater Ultra? First, I decide that I am taking on this challenge for real. Second, I chart a reasonable course which, step by step, will get me ever closer to the dream. Thirdly, the commitment and course decided upon and defined, I exercise unwavering obedience. I train and never look back — knowing that I will win in this contest to be all that I am capable of dreaming I am. When our dreams and our reality meet face to face – most often around mile 23 in the marathon, we discover who we are  — and the person we were afraid of becoming, in our soft daily acquiescence, disappears.

Gotta Run!

~Coach Patrick