The word has been ping-ponging in my head for a few months now.
As a runner, does that mean something to you? Do you focus on restraint? Do you harness it? How much do you even have?
As I started running more and more miles, from my half-mile breathless romps around northwest Gainesville to 8-mile long runs in heat or downpour and sometimes both, the word restraint began to force itself upon me, as if actively taking on a new meaning.
As a new runner, I ignored restraint and it ignored me. Where is the restraint in running until your lungs sear, your legs ache and your head spins. And this in 10, maybe 15 minutes. Even a mile run?
Is there restraint in taking a day off when wild horses couldn’t drag you out for a run?
I couldn’t find any. Less so crossing a self-imagined self-imposed finish line on my first three-mile run; give it all you’ve got – 110% of your energy, joy, willpower. Let it all out. Get across that line.
Somewhere down the road, maybe literally, the word “cannot” melts. It drips from your forehead onto the road, stepped on, passed, eventually forgotten. “Cannot” is replaced by “when” and “how.”
Maybe there’s no singular moment. I can’t remember mine. But “when” and “how” become lasting. Everlasting, I hope. “When” and “how” lead you to the doorsteps of… you guessed it.
Excitement. Restraint. Sprinting. Restraint. Two-a-days. Restraint. 5 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles, marathon, ultramarathon, 100-miler. Restraint, you mother fucker.
And a blessing or a curse?
Is restraint keeping my achilles attached, or is it keeping me from Olympic trials? Is restraint keeping my mind sharp, focused, energized and burnout-proof, or is it unnecessarily gnawing at me, weakening me from the inside?
Questions to ponder, yes. To answer? I don’t know. I’m not sure I ever will.
Whether or not an aid or a Band-Aid, I see and feel restraint in my present self as a runner. Restraint to warm-up and not bolt out the door. Restraint to keep a pace that will see me through a 50-minute run. Restraint to rest a strained achilles – my body saying “no” and my mind screaming “go!”
I believe it a powerful tool. I trust it will serve me well, but I can’t be sure, and only time will tell.