Saturday, October 10, 2009

Karma

I found Burnaby lake.

Today I ran a workout with a few very fast runners at Burnaby Lake in Burnaby. Fortunately for me I was 1/2 hour early as I arrived at Deer Lake rather then Burnaby Lake. After a little bit of a re-route I found the appropriate spot to meet some peeps for a Saturday morning run. Today we ran 3km, 2km, 1km, 1km. I wanted to use this workout as a final tune up for the race next weekend. The whole workout felt very controlled and pretty good. During the first 3km I had a revelation at the mid way point that I was working hard yet was well above sub 30 minute pace for 10km. Sub 30 minutes is very fast! I was able to run today behind Richard Mosley who is one of the best distance runners in Canada. Even being able to see someone of his caliber up ahead provides motivation to run hard. The 2km and 1km pieces went by very quickly and felt really good. I felt like I was cruising without much mental strain. It is very nice to be fit. After the workout we ran a nice cool down along the trails of Burnaby Lake.

I firmly believe that what you put into something is what you will get out. For me running is a direct example of this. The more you train and the smarter you train the better you will get. The key is the relation between training and training smart, ignorance can lead to trouble. The thing is, you cannot cut corners. It takes years and years of training to become good at anything. There is a piece of natural talent that one must have but there is also a work ethic that must be present as well. Of course if someone got up off of the chesterfield tomorrow and tried to run with me for a month they would instantly become injured and probably never run again. There is a process that needs to be in place to achieve. The negative outcome of cutting corners in running is literal. Yes you will get a better time in a workout if you take the shortcut but when it comes time to race there is no shortcut. I still remember when I was training at UNB and we were out on a team long run. I was running with my teammate Antoine at the back of a small pack. Everyone in front of us took a shortcut to cut some of the mileage our coach had asked us to run. Antoine said to me something along the lines of 'you can't take shortcuts if you want to win'. We kept along the path only to arrive back at the gym quite a ways behind the group. The sentiment of keeping honest with training and not taking shortcuts has stuck with me to this day and is a reason I have gotten faster over the years. I still hear Antoine's voice inside my head when the option of a shortcut presents itself.

Related to this concept is Karma. In Buddhism/Hinduism/Sikhism/Jainism Karma is seen as referring to cause and effect with some influence of god or self will and overtones of reincarnation. With Karma there is no excuse for ignorance so that even a well intentioned deed that results in negative outcomes results in less then ideal Karma. Our Western interpretation of Karma is the idea of 'what goes around comes around'. Many theologians would quiver at the thought of this simplistic and convenient interpretation of a complex philosophy. I like to think of Karma in Western terms as it is much easier to understand and it compliments my belief system well, though this is with a strong understanding that what I perceive is somewhat bastardized. I hear quite often that 'Karma's a bitch". I prefer to think of Karma as a wonderful opportunity to bring good into our lives. The idea of good deeds and actions and pure spirit bringing inner peace and contentment is wonderful and I see it in those around me. I am lucky to have wonderful friends who all have great Karma. They are good people and although they have ups and downs they appear with a bright spirit and a loving heart. How can this transfer to training?

Ever notice how a team culture can lead to great results? I know very few runners who are jerks. There must be something in our shared work ethic that enables us to chill out and be friendly. What I have noticed is how the person who trained hard and was miserable to everyone around them is still miserable once they win while the person who has a great attitude can win but when they lose can deal with it. Yes the miserable person won but after the effect of the win wore off they returned to their negative life. A person who inspires others with their energy and leads through example with a good work ethic and passion for what they do not only improves their own ability but also those around them. The positive energy on the team builds and fosters growth for all involved. In the end everyone improves. The improvement may not be seen in minutes and seconds but rather in passion and spirit. In running the actual competition is only a few minutes to a few hours long. The Karma from the training, team work, support and friendship is what lasts a lifetime. When I think back on my years of training I remember my fastest times and best races with joy. What has shaped me as a person are the moments of Karma. The advice and support of teammates and our shared passion with the hours of training on my own journey have cultivated Karma. Whatever happens I am prepared.

Happy Training!

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