I read a newspaper article last Saturday that gave me pause for thought.
The journalist, who’s in her early sixties as far as I know, spoke about how slow she was to make plans for the year ahead, because she felt she couldn’t be really confident that she’d be alive long enough to see them all through. It didn’t seem wise, she said.
At first I thought that she was being unnecessarily morbid, melodramatic even. After all, she was relatively young and in good health – as far as I knew – and at least outwardly successful. So, why should she ‘accentuate the negative’, I asked myself? I was mildly surprised at the tone of the piece, because I’ve read this person’s stuff for quite a while and have enjoyed almost everything she’s written. ‘She’s usually a bit more chipper than that’, I said to myself.
When I sat back and thought about it a little longer, I wondered if there might be another way of looking at what she’d said. I’ve eventually decided that there is. Simplistically put, if we don’t make plans or set goals for ourselves to reach, we’re set for success. It’s a slam-dunk! After all, we cannot miss targets that we don’t aim for and we cannot fail, if we do not try. Perhaps, as runners, we try too hard some of the time.
I really don’t mean that to sound glib, because I know that ambition, dreams of success and sheer bloody-mindedness have driven many runners to incredible achievements. Where would we be without our plans, our training logs and our highly-detailed twelve-week core-strengthening schedules?
Without wanting to diminish any of that pure-hearted drive and dedication to improvement, I want to believe that it doesn’t have to be that way all of the time. Unrealised ambition can be a burden to some and realising our dreams can be a difficult and sometimes frustrating process. Perhaps there’s a time and a place for drifting; a place for wandering along without a plan.
When I was a boy, my father would often raise himself from his comfortable chair on a summer’s evening and declare that he was going for a stroll. He wasn’t going for a walk, or to stride purposefully for a set distance, he was going to stroll; to take the air.
For some of this year I shall follow suit.