Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Battle Within

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop, but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...  It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed." - Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon Champion

I so agree with Ms. Gareau.  On some days running comes easy: You decide to go for a run; get dressed; and get out there and do it.  No problem.

Then, on days like today, running is a whole different ball game.  Your body feels like a classroom full of pre-schoolers.  Naughty ones.  Ones that take pleasure in writing on walls with permanent markers and pulling each other's hair.  Your mind, on the other hand, is the pre-school teacher who has to maintain some form of order in the midst of the threatening chaos.  A typical hair-in-a-bun teacher with reading glasses on the tip of her nose; wearing a pale, light brown pencil skirt and a pastel pink blouse.  A teacher who does absolutely everything by the book.

Now, you should know that the pre-schoolers want to do what the pre-schoolers want to do.  Period.  If they're tired, they want to sleep.  If they're hungry, they want to eat.  And if they want to give up, they want to give up.  NOW.  No mature reasoning or looking at the bigger picture - they live in a fools' paradise revolving solely around themselves and their immediate wants.  The teacher, on the other hand, is a master in the art of discipline.  And in seeing the bigger picture.  And in realising that sometimes happiness, at least in part, lies in sacrificing immediate wants for ultimate ones (courtesy of Mr. Stephen Covey).  A battle is therefore unavoidable...

Over the years the pre-school teacher has developed a number of techniques to coax the pre-schoolers into doing what they don't want to do.  These include:

  • Asking nicely.  "Pretty please go for your run now.  You'll be glad you did!"  (Accompanied by a wide smile and fluttering eye lashes.)
  • Threatening them.  "Get your lazy bum out the door and go for your run.  NOW!"  (Accompanied by a stern frown and a pointing index finger.)  
  • Bribing them.  "You know that running shirt you've been wanting for weeks?  We can stop by the store once you're finished..."  (Sly smile.)
  • And last, but not least: Blackmailing them: "If you don't go for/finish your run right now, I'll never make you chocolate brownies ever again!"
Some days the teacher wins; some days the pre-schoolers do.  I doubt if the battle will ever be entirely over.  So - amidst all the wall writing and hair pulling - here's to keeping on keeping on!

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