Consistency is a funny thing. When you have it, you don’t realize that it’s there. You just go through your days doing what you normally do. Without it however, you can feel like life is out of control and slipping away from you.
In running, especially ultrarunning, consistency is key. You don’t just wake up one morning and run 100 miles. You have to get up and train everyday for a long time. You may not be running everyday, but you are training. What you eat, how you sleep, the days you take off, it’s all training.
When I started this journey last August I hadn’t been consistent with running. We had an off and on relationship to say the least. I knew that this relationship had to change if I was going run Leadville in 2015. I needed everyday to be a training day. As I looked into training and consistency, I realized that it was just about priorities, habits, and small decisions. Each day I needed to wake up and simply make the right choices for that day. I didn’t need to worry about running the 100 mile race. I needed to make sure I ate, ran, and rested well for that specific day. That was all. Nothing more, nothing less.
“How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” just kept running through my head. I knew what I needed to do. Now, it was just time to act. It was time for me to become an ultra runner. By sheer willpower and making the right daily decisions, I transformed myself into a running machine.
This transformation happened almost over night. In just a few months time I was waking up at 5 am, running 40+ mile weeks, doing long 20+ mile trail runs once a week, and lost 10 pounds of fat while build muscle. I was single minded. It was amazing. From August to January I could count the running days I had missed on one hand. Consistency all the sudden seemed easy. I couldn’t believe how far I had come. Honestly, It seemed pretty easy too. My life felt perfect, as if nothing could derail me. On one of my 20+ mile runs in 40 degree weather and rain I had a revelation. I realized I was so content with my running, family life, spiritual journey, and work that I thought if I slipped and died I would be happy. I was happy. The cold and raid couldn’t bring me down. Perhapses the weather was a foreshadowing of things to come.
The first wave in the assault on our consistent and pretty “perfect” life hit at the beginning of February. I mean, our life wasn’t perfect. We had a three year old and 10 month old at this point. More accurately, life seemed perfect in-between the screaming and raving fits. Since February, each week has had its own new challenges and struggles. With the funerals, stomach flu, multiple injuries, 2nd wave of stomach flu, looking for a church family, preparing taxes, working out of town, food poisoning that left me in a field behind a gas station at 11pm at night, struggling with the social security administration for days, a broken down car, foster care continuing education, running a business, missed work days, parenting and being a husband, not to mention all the meetings with CPS and our foster daughter’s legal team, there hasn’t been time to run.
Then we received a call for an emergency placement that we knew we needed to take. All the sudden our two bedroom apartment had three kids under four. We were and are officially outnumbered!
Though all this was difficult, the hardest part was watching Leadville slip away right before my eyes. Each day I didn’t run was one step back ward and a day closer to the race. How did this happen? Why did it happen? I used to love getting up early to run. Now, I had trouble just getting up! I was only running about 10 miles a week. That wouldn’t be enough to finish a 100 mile race. The only thing that seemed to be consistent was inconsistency.
I wanted to give up. I did give up. I would just run Leadville in 2016. I felt like a failure. I let people down. I let myself down. It was over.
I decided to tell my wife about my decision. Before I could even tell her what I was thinking, she told me not to quit. To keep on going. It seemed impossible but I knew she was right. I had to keep going. If I couldn’t keep going now, how would I keep going when my mind and body were shutting down 80 miles into the race? This wasn’t failure. This was a part of training. I was learning how to keep going even when all I wanted to do was quit.
I’m happy to say, I’m back on track running again. I’m behind on my training but I know I can make it up. There is still enough time. I will just have to work harder and smarter. Consistency is hard. Contrary to what I believed, it isn’t a short term play. It is a long term investment but the dividends make the wait worth it. Maybe consistency isn’t about being perfect and making all the right choices. What if it’s about the “failures” and learning to keep going in spite of them.
Psalms 24:16 says, “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”
Perhapses Thomas Wayne said it best, “And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”