One of my favorite quotes is from Frank Shorter, who won the gold medal in the 1972 Olympics for the marathon. He said, “Consistency is the key.” I have always believed that though there have been times in my training when I have not been particularly consistent. And lately, the only thing that’s been pretty consistent is that I’ve been struggling.
Several years ago, I developed a nagging lower back, hamstring injury that eventually went away with regular strength training and modified workouts. Seems that same old thing is back; the difference this time is that several years ago, I continued to run fast despite the injury. Now, I’m injured, AND I’m slow. It’s depressing and frustrating and a general pain in the butt… literally.
Still, yesterday, I got out and ran an hour and 50 minutes at Stone Mountain without too much trouble, and for the first time in a while, I remembered what it is I love about running. I haven’t been out today, so I don’t know if I’ll run worth a hoot, but yesterday was a lot of fun.
I said all that to say that I’ve been thinking about consistency a lot lately. I’ve been running for a pretty long time, and though there have been ups and downs with pregnancies, post-pregnancies, injuries, stressful work schedules and the general craziness of life, I’ve managed to maintain a pretty darned consistent running program for most of my adult life. When I think of it like that, I don’t feel so bad.
One of the reasons I think I have been able to do it is because I’ve gathered a great group of supportive, like-minded people around me over these many years, and it helps to have friends who support you in your efforts, whether you’re experiencing great success or just slogging through the best you can at the time.
And the other reason, I believe, is that it’s always been fun for me. I discovered a while back what works for me and what doesn’t, and I keep coming back, despite the occasional aggravation, because ultimately, running brings me a lot of joy. I knew going out yesterday that my long run might be great or I might be hobbling back to the car within 20 minutes, but I decided to just go out and do what I do—run (or hike if necessary) through the woods and just be by myself with my thoughts and enjoy the scenery. While I did have to walk some, I didn’t really mind. I enjoyed it.
While I was running, I began to think about consistency in other parts of my life, particularly writing. Though I manage to fill up my time with lots of things, my primary focus is being a mom and being a writer. I thought about consistency in those areas of my life as well.
When things are going well, just as in running, the consistency comes not from a demanding list of things that must be done, but instead it comes from the recognition of and respect for what I enjoy.
I enjoy having freedom as a family to play in the afternoons or lounge around on Saturday mornings before working in our garden or going down to the creek to play. I feel that these things add to our life as a family and are good for my children. They are important to me. When our schedule gets out of control, as it does from time to time, I feel out of sorts, and so do the kids. We lose the consistency of playtime, shared dinners and slow bedtime rituals.
In my writing, I like to share my stories. I am, by nature, a storyteller. I like to talk, and I like to write, and I like to put words to the page. It’s what I do. Recently, I’ve been told by several people that I need more photos, more images, more “bullet points” in my blog because too much text will discourage people from reading. I need to be more visual. So I tried it.
I’ve been downloading more pictures and adding visual elements to break up my long-winded stories, and while I like it to a certain extent, I’ve noticed a decline in my blog posts. Believe me, it’s not for lack of material. I constantly think of things I want to post and write about and share, but lots of times, I don’t have a photo to go with it. Or downloading photos takes three times as long as writing the post, and I don’t want to fool with it. Or I’m afraid the telling of the story will be too long, too boring, not immediate enough. So what happens?
I just don’t write anything. I put it all in my journal, and there it stays.
The problem is a blog is very much like running and raising kids—consistency is the key. Like running and being a mother, I really, really like writing this blog, AND I need to do what makes sense for me, what really strikes a chord in my heart. In my running, that means getting out the door every day and running in the woods and just feeling the earth beneath my feet, even if my feet need to be walking right now. In raising children, it means uninterrupted time for play and creativity and just being together without a lot of scheduled activities and racing up and down the road from one obligation to the next. And in writing, it means telling my story, as it is, with or without photos or fancy script or cool graphics (though those elements are certainly nice to have from time to time).
Consistency OR constancy, steadiness, regularity—I like all of these terms. I want to be constantly seeking out the things that make me happy. I want to steadily make my way towards my goals and dreams for my family and myself. I want to regularly look for goodness and beauty in the world. I want to consistently tell my story.