Blink, blink, blink…
The cursor mocks me from an empty page. A whiteout, a snowstorm; and nothing comes. These are the days that everyone who writes for a living fears most of all. I am in a terrible period of writer’s block. Now entering its third week, I avoid the keyboard and cursor like the plague. I can’t reach out to my Traxees. I can’t face Facebook. My Twitter hasn’t chirped in weeks. I'm sure Penelope Trunk never has days like these.
To try to reconnect with my mojo, I sift through the hundreds of posts I’ve written over the past two and a half years and my eye is caught by an old entry dated June, 2008 called All I Really Need To Know I Learned From Running – and that gets me thinking.
I’ll bet there isn’t one of you reading this right now that hasn’t faced a motivation crisis in your running career. Maybe it comes after running a marathon, or maybe it comes out of nowhere for seemingly no reason at all. Suddenly, you just can’t get out of bed when that alarm goes off. Perhaps you’ve been injured and thrown so completely off your training schedule that the Lifetime Channel and a bag of Trader Joe’s Sweet and Salty Mix is all you can muster. So how do you gather every last ounce of courage and will you have left and get back out there?
For me, running and writing are inextricably entwined. People always ask me, “What do you think about when you run? Don’t you get bored?” Ha! When I run ideas come pouring in through the top of my head. Under normal circumstances, I return home from a run and go straight to my iPod to note the topics and story lines I received from the heavens somewhere around mile 4. I don’t know why this happens. I’ve just learned to accept it as some kind of gift and leave it at that. Now I have to laugh at the thought that someone up there has twisted the shut-off valve and left me in a terrible drought! Don’t I have a say?
Well, actually, I do. After wrestling and fighting with this challenge for several weeks now I think I know what’s happening with me. I forgot how to have fun. I forgot to be grateful.
Managing an online community of fabulous women runners has been a dream of mine for a long time now; but it’s also a lot of hard work. There’s the writing and the research, for sure. But there’s also the constant cross posting and outreach, the technical challenges, the site development issues, the inadequate budgets, etc., etc. Like running, it all looks so simple, right? Just lace up your shoes and go! But you and I know differently.
No woman runner goes out and just runs a marathon (well, practically no one anyway), without weeks of training and hard work. The blogosphere is full of articles on maintaining motivation. And one of the things we always hear is to remember to have fun. So how do we do that? We change-up our workouts, add a little fartlek, track or speed workouts. We keep a running journal to stay close to ourselves and our thoughts and our progress. We do things to constantly remind us of just how far we’ve come. We call on our friends for motivation. We reach out online for other women who share our struggles and triumphs.
Somehow, ‘round about the second week of January I realized how thoroughly exhausted I was. I tell you, I really felt like I hit the proverbial wall. Spent. Done. DNF. And in this exhausted state I shut it off, my motivation – my understanding of why I do this in the first place - and it all felt like drudgery…like (horrors) work. So you see, no one shut off my valve from the heavens, I plugged the spigot myself. What then is left but fear? That “F” word that keeps you from getting back to training after injury, that loathsome thing that prevents you from trying the marathon again.
In the past 7 months, the Traxee community has tripled in size. We now have women runners from all over the world visiting our sites every day. Some of you reach out on Traxee.com and write out your advice, thoughts and feelings to help other women runners. Your voices are skilled and beautiful. We interact through Facebook, (in December our Facebook visitation reached an all-time high of over 6,000 daily post views) and our Twitter network continues to gain new followers. Occasionally I receive emails from members telling me how much Traxee has helped them get through a rough patch, or how they’ve been moved by a particular post. I need to remember what we’ve accomplished in just a very short period of time. Seeing all of your reactions to each other is an amazing gift.
I’ve said so many times that starting to run – starting anything that’s new, period - is an act of courage. I also believe that being vulnerable amongst friends is an act of courage that in turn, is an act of power.
T.S. Eliot wrote:
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Running, as well as all the other things we do to grow into our potential is one of those acts of exploration; the way we come to know ourselves and define our life’s purpose. Connection to ourselves enables us to love the ones closest to our hearts and appreciate all of the gifts we’ve been given. Just telling you all of this, I feel my motivation returning. I hear the squeak of that spigot in the sky turning and a little trickle coming out. Perhaps my wait is over.