One of my first jobs was on an assembly line in a packaging factory. Hour upon hour, repeating the same motion. Take it from the left, move it to the right. Again. And again. Sound like hell? It wasn’t. It wasn’t a dream job by any means, but it was pleasant, peaceful. I knew what to expect, and I did it. Every. Day.
I love routine, especially when it comes to running. Meals, paths, brands, race organizers, even specific annual races–if I like something once, I’ll repeat it as regularly as possible. I don’t do well with chaos, so I find order where I can.
For almost entirely positive reasons, routine has been out of the question this month. New job, new house, new dress code, new commute, new responsibilities, all in a city that I’m still discovering by the minute. Each change has been for the better, but adapting can be painful.
On my first run in the new neighborhood, I got lost. Despite Google Street Viewing and MayMyRunning the course, the turns happened sooner than I expected, or later. I don’t know where I went wrong, but I did. No landmarks looked familiar. I hadn’t set out on a long run, so I couldn’t be that far astray, but it was enough to shake my confidence. I twisted and meandered my way back to a major street and found my way home, nowhere nearly as neatly as I’d intended.
As much as I try to hold on to structure and sameness, change just keeps on coming. But that’s what’s wonderful about running. Change can lead to exciting progress and new discoveries. The motions of running are consistent, but there are new variables every day. I can change location or time of my run, change my motivation for running, the distance, or level of difficulty. If I’m not getting the results I want, I can add a new element and improve the way I run.
Maybe I’ll join a running group. Maybe I’ll try an obstacle course race. Maybe I’ll stop running with a watch and run until I feel finished, not until I hit a certain time.
There’s always a way to change and make it better. Even it’s not the direction I intended to go.
Originally published 5/4/13