April was an incredible month of running for me. I set huge PRs on Towers, Horsetooth Rock, The Horsetooth Half and for 50 miles. I had amazing runs on Round Mountain, the Quad Rock course, solid track workouts, back to back long runs and through it all, I have felt great, amazing even. My legs seem to have a sharpness and spring to them that I haven't felt in running in a very long time. Running has been fun, exciting, rewarding, healing and rejuvenating in ways that it has never been before. Many of my friends, family and running companions have asked me, "what's going on?" and "what is the secret behind all these PRs and running breakthroughs?" I have thought about this a lot as well.
So . . . I have lost a little weight and I have been putting in some solid training and I know that helps, but those things don't even begin to explain what is really going on. I have been forced to look inside recently and really reflect on who I am and how I have been living and I realized that for a long time, maybe my whole life even, I have been controlled by my fears. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of falling down on a rocky downhill section of trail. These fears and so many others have been a suffocating weight on me and have held me back not only in running, but in all aspects of my life. Realizing this and being faced head on with what these fears and my response to them is doing to me and to those whom I love around me has been a tremendous shock. Giving in to my fears has made me a stressed, controlling person, reluctant to take risks and always worried about things that I really have no control of. The answer to it all was simple though. I needed to just let go. And I am learning to do this. My friend, Micah True, said "Don't fight the trail, take what it gives you." And this is what I am learning to do. I credit my new life in running to learning to let go. I am running down technical trails with carefree abandon now that a couple months ago I took overly slowly and cautiously, one careful worried step at a time. And I am having a blast. I feel less affected by the painful burn of steep uphills and fast paces. I am finding that I can be not only a better runner, but far more importantly, a better father, a better teacher, a better friend and a better person by letting go of my fears and anxieties. I am not held back by pain and fear and worry that I need to fix things or be in control of the situation anymore and this allows me to run and live more completely.
I don't have it all figured out yet. Not even close. I have some major challenges ahead and some deeply personal struggles and weaknesses to work through. But I know that I can do it and I can face what ever comes with confidence, with love, with an open hand and with a smile because I am not afraid anymore.
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything - anger, anxiety, or possessions - we cannot be free.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh