2013: The Year of Giving Up

It’s taken me over a month of reflection to feel like I have any real insight into what 2013 was like for me. Even now, in the middle of February, I don’t think I’ve got the full picture. But that’s life. Can you ever really make lasting sense of it?

Looking back, 2013 seems a little bit empty. It wasn’t a bad year and it wasn’t a good year, it was just sort of there, you know? I didn’t race much, I didn’t run much, I didn’t really do anything big or significant. 2013 doesn’t have any distinguishing features…except that I kind of gave up on stuff.

I don't normally go for these quote memes, but this one seemed appropriate

I don’t normally go for these quote memes, but this one seemed appropriate

Giving up has such a negative sound to it, like you’re just kind of accepting that you can’t win and walking away. There’s resignation, and maybe even some resentment, involved. The giving up I’m talking about wasn’t all bad. I mean, it wasn’t meant to be. It was actually meant to be positive, more letting go than giving up: letting go of things that I thought were holding me back, of things that were too much, of things that were damaging. But at some point, I think I lost track of the things I was shedding, and now I feel a little bit naked.

If life is a balance of holding on and letting go, how do we decide which is more appropriate at any given time? I think my biggest fault this past year was telling myself that giving things up would be healthy and helpful, when in reality all I was doing in some cases was justifying the fact that I was throwing in the towel and no longer making an effort for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, the healthy part comes from the effort, while the act of giving up ends up being more damaging. At other times, it really is time to give yourself a break and try to connect with doing less in order to get more out of something.

I find myself thinking about this balance a lot. I don’t want 2014 to be a repeat of 2013. Instead, I want to push myself while still respecting and understanding my limits. I want to do new things without beating myself up if I fail or fumble. I don’t want to give up just to avoid the discomfort that might come from an imperfect outcome, but I don’t want to keep holding on when I no longer stand to gain anything positive from a situation, either.

I guess that as in all cases that require some kind of balance, finding what works will take a lot of trial and error. Maybe that’s what 2014 will be for.


The Wrong Foot

English: Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

English: Two New Year’s Resolutions postcards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometime in mid-December, when everyone started talking about the end of the year, and New Year’s resolutions, and all that stuff, I got a bit caught up in thinking about how 2012 had gone for me. A lot happened. Some of it was good, and some of it was bad. When I look back at the blogging I did, I sort of want to erase every post because there’s something so crappy and half-assed about it. A big part of me dreamt (and still dreams) about making sweeping, miraculous changes to the way I do things, essentially creating a new life for myself in the process. And another part of me repeatedly countered those dreams with reminders that the world (not to mention human psychology) doesn’t work that way, and that resolutions aren’t really the way to tackle things that need to be addressed, anyway.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I remembered that I’d started the year off by scoffing at the mileage goal of another runner. She planned to run 600 miles in 2012. The main reason I scoffed was that another part of her goal was to run a marathon every month, and it bothered me that she would commit to that but only hold herself accountable for a total of 600 measly miles–not even twice what she’d run if she doubled the number of marathons she did. When I think now about how contemptuous I was then, I can’t help but feel like a total jerk. I mean, for one thing, that’s just a shitty attitude. What difference does it make how much she runs? What effect does it have on me? Why should I even care? And for another, guess how many miles ran in 2012? 651. My average was 12 miles per week. I didn’t log more than 100 miles in a single month. I’m not saying that if I’d run 1200 miles in the past year that I’d be justified in picking on this other runner, but there’s something especially lousy about questioning someone’s commitment to an activity when you yourself can’t even claim to be committed (at least not according to your own definition of the term).

Since I’ve got some sort of pathological attachment to challenges, plans, and self-improvement techniques, my first response to this memory was to tell myself that in 2013, I’d run 1,000 miles; that I’d be a more dedicated runner; that all I really needed was to be more committed and everything would be totally different. But then I managed to take a step back and realize that I don’t need any of that. What I need is to stop planning and coming up with ridiculous challenges that are designed to make me a Better Person and actually do things. Things like running, blogging about things I find interesting, no longer being such a jerk…you know, stop talking about what my life should be like and actually go out and have a life: be a runner, be a blogger, and enjoy things.

I’m not making any resolutions this year, but I do want to move forward on the right foot this time around.




Looking Back on 2011

A blank slate

2012: a blank slate. Image by Tojosan via Flickr.

I’ve started, stopped, and erased this post 3 times today. This is attempt #4. I’m determined to make it the one that sticks. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m having a hard time writing a year-end post (especially considering I’m under absolutely no obligation to do so) and I think it’s because overall 2011 kind of sucked. I mean, it had its highs, but for the most part it’s full of a lot of stuff I want to leave behind me.

More than anything, when I think about the past year, I think about how much I was floundering. A lot of my blog posts ended up being declarations about starting new challenges, changing habits, improving this, no longer doing that…none of it stuck, and it leaves me wondering why I kept returning to the idea of overhauling something in spite of an overall lack of success in doing so.

Looking toward 2012, I still feel like something has to change. I need to shake things up somehow; I’ve been doing the exact same things for the past several years, and just sort of coasting along without doing much to break out of my routine (or more appropriately, rut). And clearly, it’s not really working. I mean, right? If it were, I think I’d probably not be sitting here writing this!

I’m not really sure where to start, to be honest. But I guess the best place is by identifying some of the things I would like to do, and then determine what, among those things, is reasonable. And so:

  1. Follow through on more things, i.e. run the races I’m registered for, follow my training plans, etc.
  2. Take more control over the way I deal with food, because even though things have gotten a lot better, there is still a lot of room for improvement
  3. Blog more often, and put more time into it overall
  4. Spend more time working on other written material to submit to other sites
  5. Get a job (I’m not a fan of unemployment, really)
  6. Do more yoga (and more running, too, since 2011 didn’t see much of that)
  7. Develop a cross-training (slash strength-training) routine.
Did I miss anything? Is that all? Probably not. But it’s a good start, and that’s what I was looking for anyway, so that’s that. And now, to let those things sit a while, and see what (if any) insights develop in the next day or so.

In the meantime, can we get to 2012 already?

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