I have a confession to make: I am an angry runner. Actually, let me clarify: I am an angry racer. Don’t get me wrong – I love running, but somewhere along the way – I turned into a racing grinch. I’m not quite sure how it all began or where my angst is rooted, but there’s no doubt – if you catch me mid-race, I will most likely have a laundry list of annoyances. Whether my GPS watch doesn’t display the exact distance of the course (and yes, I understand that has to do with running perfect tangents, but I can’t reason with my angry mind at the time) or the water isn’t ice cold at the water stops – nothing is off limits from setting my mind on fire during a race. Typically I start off upset with extraneous things, but eventually the anger spirals into negative self talk. By the end of a race I’ve become my own worse enemy, irritated over not achieving negative splits or watching a PR slip through my fingers because I walked through a water stop. No matter the race, I always run angry…until a month ago.
Less than 30 days ago, I stood at the start line of one of my favorite annual half marathons. A little undertrained, I waited for the start gun with no expectations of achieving a new PR. I looked around at the runners surrounding me and made a pledge to myself that this race would be different. No more anger. I didn’t have a set plan for exterminating my old habit. I simply set out to focus on the positive. Determined to “enjoy the journey” (as I often preach to others, though rarely follow my own advice), I set out to run 13.1 miles with one goal: leave the angry thoughts behind.