Repeat after me: Go with the flow
A very good friend of mine once told me, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”
This year’s Boston Marathon was a testament to just that. A marathon that is notorious for sweltering heat after most of New England has been in a deep freeze just a few weeks prior, but can sometimes be graced with a gentle tailwind from the west with cool temperatures. Of course, not this year.
My “comfort zone” has always been very “Type A.” I used to think my workouts had to go just as prescribed by my coach, or else it was a failure. Races were a struggle, because if I didn’t feel good, if the weather wasn’t perfect, or my race plan wasn’t executed as I had pictured in my head, I “blew up.” My “comfort zone” has always been a fresh new hair cut, sharp Oakley sunglasses and a clean white Nike racing hat. This year I decided to muddy that hat. I started to step out of my comfort zone. This year I decided to go with the flow. Kind of like my hair. All of a sudden the Oakleys turned to a pair of bug-eyed Goodr sunglasses, easily accompanied by an Elmer Fudd looking Next Level Running trucker hat.
These small changes sound so silly, yet they helped me. They helped me relax and realize I needed to enjoy the little things that come with training.
Running, like many things in life, should never be too serious.
Patriots’ Day morning was not ideal, to say the least. My mantra was “Go with the flow.” There was no need to be woken up by my alarm, rather the howling winds and the pelting rain sufficed. The morning news notified me there was snow and ice at the start line.
“Thomas, go with the flow.”
As I arrived at the Athlete’s Village, the fields were a mud pit already, my umbrella had blown inside out, and I had dropped my bag in a puddle.
“Thomas, go with the flow.”
I have learned there are many things in running — and in life — you just have no control over. Getting worked up and stressed about things out of your grasp is just wasted energy.
In my last big workout, two weeks before the marathon, I stopped and walked a bit. I just wasn’t feeling great, so I took a break, refocused and finished the workout. The old me would have been discouraged and frustrated with the effort, but the new me went with the flow. I knew that one workout, one run, would not define my performance April 16.
The 2018 Boston Marathon allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. I had to! I was OK with adjusting the goals, and rolling with what Mother Nature decided to throw at us that day.
In turn, I finally allowed growth outside where very few people allow growth to happen. I did not dwell on my last workout. I did not dwell about the weather. I left my comfort zone on that start line in Hopkinton, and found a more beautiful place on Boylston Street.
Thomas Paquette is the owner and personal running coach for Next Level Running and finished 194th overall in the 2018 Boston Marathon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.