“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
“You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.”
“If you only knew the power of the Dark Side.”
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Darth Vader, once the biggest bad-ass in the Universe, makes a compelling argument. When we are angry, when we hate, we can harness a tremendous amount of strength and power. Governments have been overthrown, wars have been won on the power of anger and hate. But at what price? I could go on endlessly on the topic, but this is a running blog, not a philosophy or history blog.
In the aftermath of Boston 2011, I found myself going through different stages. Much like the path to the Dark Side, I first found myself fearing that I would never want to run a marathon again. I then got angry that I let my game plan go out the window from the very start. That was followed by a generic hateful feeling that ultimately led to internal suffering. The anger part though has not totally faded away yet. There has been a part of me that has been afraid that I will spend the next 13 weeks preparing for the Run Around the Lake by running angry.
Now, running angry can be productive. It can get you over the hump, push you through the wall,get your ass out of bed -sometimes, to quote the movie Win-Win (which I highly recommend), you have to do whatever the f*@# it takes!
…but, again, at what price?
If I train angry and run angry and accomplish my goal, what part of me will I have sacrificed to do so? Will that anger instantly turn to joy if I run a sub-3:15? Would I even feel joy as I cross the finish line with a sub-3:15?
Running is physically exhausting, with the return you get being a general sense of well-being for several hours after you run. But anger is emotionally exhausting, negating that feel-good post-run feeling.
I feel like a young Luke Skywalker – new to the game, in possession of a mild amount of skill, with enough knowledge to think that I have enough knowledge, which of course, simply means I have enough knowledge to get myself into trouble. As my dear friend MK pointed out in the comments of Complement, I’ve only been at this running thing for a little over two years – I am a beginner, a neophyte, a padawan. I need patience tempered with the understanding that my endurance will come.
And yet, I hear the call of the Dark Side. The taking running too seriously side. The running angry side. The running with hate side. The running MTV-Generation Style side.
Doubtless, there will be days when I run with anger, but I hope I can follow the example of my friend Michelle, who preaches the concept of Running Happy. I’ll get there, eventually. I have to believe that.
To a large degree it’s just a matter of miles invested. As long as I remember that, remember that each joyful step I take is one more step toward achieving my goal, I’m pretty sure I’ll be all right.
On Sunday I strapped on the old heart monitor and drove out to face those Newton Hills that shut me down just two weeks ago. It was my first time running on them since the Boston Marathon. My plan was to keep the heart rate low (as per my running schedule). The run ended up being much faster than I anticipated, with my legs staying fresh, my lungs hardly having to work and my heart taking it easy. It made me realize that I was not foolish to think that I could hit 3:10 at Boston, that sometimes, bad things just happen (whether by self-infliction or other means – based on MK’s comment, I may have simply gone out too hard). April 18th just wasn’t my day.
July 29th will be…and I will do it with a smile on my face.