Last Wednesday, after the girls were tucked into their beds and after much procrastination, I headed out the door for a run. It was raining, as usual, and it was that special kind of bone-chilling cold outside and so gloomy and generally just kind of awful. I told myself to just go out there and do whatever I felt like doing. Worst case, I could just run to the dog poop trash can, a measly one mile return trip.
By the time I made it to the trash can, my muscles were already good and warm, so I decided to run up and down my training hill a couple of times. Of course after that I felt fantastic and I got all high and continued for six miles, which is a lot for me for an after-bedtime run. When I came home, I was in full-on skravlepus mode and JK had to endure my overly excited monologue for 20 minutes before I was able to calm down and shut up.
Most of that monologue was about expectations – about how my best days on trail tend to happen when I’m expecting it to suck. It makes sense that if you’re expecting the worst, the reality will usually be better, but that’s not really a great way to go through life. “Well this is going to be awful.” Okay, so hopefully your run (or meeting or workday or whatever) isn’t going to live up to that grim expectation, but at that point, you’re just suffering in advance of the event instead of during it.
What worked for me last Wednesday was that I truly had no expectations. An absolutely neutral mindset. Now that is a special sort of headspace magic that I usually can’t attain.
But! If a neutral mindset is the way to go, how do I reconcile it with also attempting to be all gung ho WOO I’M GONNA ROCK THIS? It sounds so good in theory, being all zen-like and living in the moment, but doesn’t a neutral mindset also mean that you can’t really look forward to anything? Because that sounds awful too. Setting goals and looking forward to them are huge happiness boosters for me, and they pretty much can’t exist without expectations.
Where am I going with all of this? I have no idea. Maybe next time I have a really good run, I’ll have some sort of grand epiphany and figure this all out, but I don’t expect (heh) that to happen anytime soon.