To Fly or to Float

Summer is finally here, and after a brutal winter all I want to do is be outside soaking up the sun. I love summer, such a wonderful time for relaxing, refreshing and reflecting. Growing up, one of my favorite summer pastimes was floating around on an inner tube in the pool in our backyard. Those lazy summer days the heat would zap me of my energy, but it didn’t matter much because that was before I had obligations such as 6pm high school cross country practice or taking online summer classes. Back then summer consisted mostly of “floating” through life without a worry in the world. It was a seemingly endless cycle of sleeping in, spending hours swimming in the pool, taking breaks only to consume copious amounts of watermelon (something like 15 pieces at a time!) The evenings included epic games of flashlight tag once the sun went down (the most barefoot sprint training I’ve ever done) and eventually my sister and I would fall asleep watching late night television in the basement since it was the only cool place in a house with no A/C.
Ah the life it was! Not a worry in the world, no place to be, and no to-do list to get done. Yet, something about that lifestyle used to bothered me. It was great in the moment, but whenever summer would come to an end I’d look back and think to myself “Where did summer go?” Sure it was a lot of fun, and it flew by fast, but in the end I felt like I hadn’t really accomplished much.
Perhaps this is why running became such a passion for me when it entered my summer routine after seventh grade. It was something that allowed me to see daily progress towards a goal, the same ultimate goal I chase to this very day. It gave me a reason to stop floating from day to day and start flying towards an Olympic dream.
Now over ten years later my summer days look a lot different than they used to. First off, summer is somewhat undefined to a pro-runner. There’s no clear start now that I’m out of school, and no such thing as vacations. Instead of a break or base-building phase this is peak season, the time of the most important championship races. Our NJNYTC practices continue like any other time of the year and the workouts are the hardest yet. Then there are strength and core routines, cross-training, massages, physical therapy and all the other daily obligations of a pro-runner. But outside of all of that there is this confusing void of time that I often look back at and wonder what I did during it.
I call this lost void of time “floating”-doing something that’s really nothing at all. It’s not that I do nothing outside of running, in fact I enjoy coaching part time and working with Girls on the Run, but outside of that I sometimes find myself “floating.” Whether its wasting time on Twitter or just relaxing while sipping on a cup of coffee, most of the time when I’m “floating” I don’t realize it until the day is over and I ask myself what I have done.

Living the life of a professional runner is a lot different than a usual 8-hour workday. There are little pockets of time that will quickly go by if they aren’t salvaged. I’m still learning how to find the balance between running and other things, but one thing I know I can improve on is spending less time “floating” and more time, say, “flying,” or working towards a goal. Sometimes that goal is simply to take a nap between two hard workouts, but other days it might mean doing something totally unrelated to running. I’m not going to lie, deep down I’m still a total running nerd and I have to consciously force myself to spend my time thinking about and doing other things. But that’s the whole reason I started blogging about “Not Running For A Win.” A few years ago I realized my life was focused 100% around running and winning when it really should have been focused on God.
The Bible talks a lot about using your time wisely and not being lazy. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” I like this verse because it reminds me to put heart into what I do and not just float through the day-to-day. It reminds me also that living a life centered around Christ leads to an inheritance with God in Heaven and that’s worth so much more than the silly day to day time-wasting pleasures.
Six months have passed now since I made my New Year’s Resolutions. To be honest, I forget exactly what I said I would do, but I know one of the things I resolved was to grow closer to God in prayer and reading my Bible, and so far I have not done that as much as I would have liked. Living a good Christian life isn’t always about doing everything perfect, but it does boil down to having priorities straight and maintaining a personal relationship with God, and so I must constantly remind myself that this is my focus.
The year may be half way through, but all the more reason it really is the perfect time to reflect and ask myself, “Have I been flying or have I been floating?” Isn’t it funny that when you float lackadaisically from day-to-day life flies by very fast and you look back thinking, “what have I done with my time?” But when you live a focused life, always having a goal in mind, the days actually float by at a more even pace.
And so, starting now I resolve to stop floating and start flying! I’ve got a lot on my plate between back-to-back race weekends, training, and my wedding that is now less than two months away! But no matter how busy life gets, there are always moments in the day where you can choose to float or choose the opposite. I choose to fly!

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