Despite that I maintain a regular workout schedule, I was far from an athletic child. I did, however, spend many hours in the dance studio, pointing and flexing until my calf muscles ached. In high school, I plateaued. I wasn’t very flexible and my arabesques hadn’t gained height in forever. I thought I wanted to be better, but did I? I would always leave dance class and never dance again until my next class. My teachers always said practice makes perfect, and I guess I was far from perfect because I never practiced.
When I got to college, I decided to hang up my ballet shoes for good. I was never a fan of classical music and I wanted to connect more with my dance experience. I set my sights in the complete opposite direction of tutus and pointe shoes-I was going to join a hip hop group. After I joined a hip hop group, I still didn’t practice! I loved performing but that once in a semester opportunity wasn’t enough to keep me captivated. I eventually left the group without any intention to dance again.
Fast forward to now, I’m a two-time half marathoner still trying to decide if I’m about this race life. I used to look at running as a chore, a necessity. I found myself saying, “I have to run. I have to sprint. I have to run uphill. I’m training for X race and I have to come in before X time.” While it’s great to have a goal, I realized that I was making running sound like a laborious process. Race day is only one day. The time that you will spend practicing will make up many days. While practice certainly doesn’t guarantee perfection, it does guarantee preparation. When I was training for the Brooklyn Half, I ran in the rain more often than I did in the sun. Even though I was annoyed by the weather conditions, I was prepared for miles 11-13 when the Brooklyn sky opened up and rained on me all the way to Coney Island!
Whatever you are practicing or training for-whether it’s a race or a big presentation-developing a healthy relationship with the process is key. The end result is much more gratifying when you’ve cherished the journey along the way.
Although a few months have passed since my last half and I’m not prepping for my next one just yet, I realize that I’ve fallen in love with process. I’ve continued to wake up early on the weekends for my long runs. Even without a clear goal or deadline, I’m still running. My relationship with the process is never ending because I’ve come to enjoy it.
So whenever I find myself procrastinating or dragging my heels when I think I should be eager and willing, I ask myself why I don’t feel determined. More often than not, my reluctance lies in my relationship with the process. When it’s right, you’ll fall in love with it. You’ll bask in it. You’ll talk about it. It’ll become a part of you. I don’t know if dance was ever right for me. I’m glad I have an experience that I can now contrast with running. I know how it feels to be uninterested in the process, and I know what it’s like to be in love with it.