Keep It Movin’

It was about 6:00 PM and 33 degrees on a Saturday. I had a recovery run. A mixture of rainy sleet (or maybe it was sleety rain?) fell around me. I couldn’t see it; it was dark out. But I could feel it sticking to the top of my pony tail. Great. I thought. That’s gonna take about 28 minutes to untangle once I get home. I kept running, un-bothered by the conditions of the Ohio winter, but rather annoyed by what the conditions were doing to my hair. I was at the end of a long week: fighting sickness, dealing with LOTS of car troubles, and in middle of midterms at school. I was also in that place, though, where I knew everything was about to slow down and become much less stressful. I was operating in that sweet spot between completely overloaded and a healthy amount of stress. It’s runs like these that I find I do my best thinking about my goals, my training, and my life in general. 

On this run, I kept repeating a phrase that has slowly become my mantra over the past few years:

Keep It Movin’. 

I don’t remember the first person to ever share this phrase with me, but they certainly weren’t the last. Over the past four and a half years, this phrase has been continually etched into my mind. It’s the phrase scribbled over and over again in the margins of the crinkled pages of my training log. It’s the phrase my college teammates and I would throw around during the stressful part of the semester. It’s the phrase my coaches all used after races: good, bad, or in between, just keep it movin’. 

I am 99.999% type A. The other 0.001% of me is type B… if you’ve ever been in my car or my room, you would understand where that 0.001% is coming from (HINT: They’re both pretty messy).

Growing up, I organized my closet by color. Summer Clothes went on the bottom rungs and shelves, winter went on the top. Colors were organized according to the Rainbow (ROYGBIV) from left to right.

I color coded the books on my bookshelf by genre using sticky notes stamped with the first letter of the author’s last name, and then alphabetized them accordingly. If anyone wanted to check a book out, they had to find me first. I would proceed to stamp the inside cover with the checkout date and due date. If they didn’t bring the book back by the due date, I would fine them one penny for every day it was late.

By first grade, I had perfected my “parent voice,” writing poems requesting people to “quiet down” and “go to bed!” I even wrote a poem called Worry Worry. My mom still pulls this book out that I published with cardboard every time I come home. {See Photo Proof this book still exists below}:

“Worry Worry Worry. Worry all day. Worry all night. Worry Worry Worry. Worry every day.” -Rachel Weber, age 7.

worry

Seriously, these poems existed– they are a real thing.

I don’t know what went on in my 7-year-old brain at the time, but ultimately, these actions were a reflection of my attempt to gain control while in a difficult family situation. I grew up with a Dad that loved me to the ends of the earth, but he was also an alcoholic.  I thought that controlling all other areas of my life would make up for this very large area that was vastly out of my control. I was wrong.

“I grew up in this place where I was stuck in a constant battle between knowing that my Dad loved and cared for me so dearly, but I would still see him fall into his addiction time and time again. For anyone that has grown up with a family member that struggles with any sort of addiction, you understand that it truly is a disease. It is incredibly hard to watch loved ones suffer and be so severely affected by a measly 26-ounce blue can. But it happens.”

~ (Earlier Post)

What I failed to realize at the time was that nothing– not even color coding my closet, developing my own Dewey Decimal system, or practicing my very best “parenting voice” — could possibly give me complete control over everything in my life.

It wasn’t until  I joined cross country in high school and met my teammate, Mechelle Anne, that I genuinely understood why the control over my life that I so desperately desired was never going to satisfy. Meche shared the gospel of Jesus with me. She shared about His love and Grace. She shared that I am set free from being a slave to perfection and control because I am loved by a perfect God who has ultimate control. I am free to dream, free to breathe, and free to live in His love regardless of my earthly circumstances.

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My old high school teammate, Mechelle

Fast-forward 15 years, and I like to think that I’ve grown and matured from first-grade Rach. Many times, however, I still find myself creating thoughts in my head to the tune of Worry Worry. My circumstances might be different as a 22 year old, but my actions frequently mirror the ones I performed as a seven year old. While I currently am not publishing poems about my worrying, I certainly struggle to let go of the parts of my life that are completely and totally out of my control. I still struggle to Keep It Movin‘.

I’m not a big believer in stereotypes, and I certainly do not like putting myself or people in boxes, but after being involved in the sport at lots of different levels, I’ve noticed that many of my fellow distance runners share my same struggles. We struggle to keep it movin’. We are type A. Detail Oriented. Achievers. Competitive. Goal-setters. Relentless. Gritty. Hard-Working. Perfectionists. These characteristics are what drew us to the sport in the first place. They are the reason that we choose to wake up every morning when that alarm clock goes off at 6:00am. They are the reason that we willingly push our bodies past their physical limitations day in and day out. They are the reason that we find ourselves lined up on a starting line Thanksgiving morning in spandex and a singlet top when it’s 28 degree out. They are the reason that we take calculated risks on the track, the road, and the course. They are the reason that we all share a common love for a sport that demands everything physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are the reason that we run.

Frequently; however, these personality traits, while positive on paper, can get in the way of the best overall outcomes when not handled carefully.

Often, instead of creating competition, we create anxiety. In an effort to be resilient, we become resentful. Our gritty and hard-working attitudes can turn into nagging (and sometimes easily preventable) injuries. And our achieving oriented mind becomes rattled if we somehow fall short.

Personally, I have found that my type-A-distance-runner tendencies have included (but are not exclusive to) not-always-rational thoughts (I don’t like to use the word irrational), extreme responses, and an inability to control and buffer emotions when faced with less than ideal situations. My in-house library is long gone, but there are many other areas in my life where I find myself wrestling with control. My family calls these reactions to situations outside of my control spiraling. My former college coach (Coach Allen) calls it going 0-10. My current coach (Rob Myers) calls it failure to stay in the moment.

I call them the Worry Worry moments. These Worry Worry moments are the same ones that caused me to keep the most organized closet known to man, charge late fees to my family for “checking out library books,” and write the most bizarre poetry book my first grade teacher probably had ever seen. These moments are also the same ones that cause me to lose my cool and lose sight of my ability to keep it movin’ when I lack total control. I  get frustrated when I lack control over situations, which distracts me from what I am ultimately trying to accomplish.

Over the past year, I’ve been focused on flipping the script. I give the sport exactly the amount of time, effort, and attention that it requires, and then I simply keep it movin’. I’ve been learning that, even after 15 years, I still cling to control as a source of comfort. God has carefully and meticulously been stripping away my ability to hold onto things that I really need to let go of. From flat tire, to towed car, to hitting a deer, to fighting obscure sickness — God has, quite literally, been forcing me to simply keep it movin‘. Eyes ahead, trusting Him, keeping it movin’.

In terms of running, this has allowed me to approach training and racing in an incredibly healthy (and extremely effective) manor.

Frantically scrambling in attempt to gain control over aspects out of my control is an energy suck. It takes away from efforts that I am able to put elsewhere when it comes to my running.  I am thankful for a coach that encourages/forces me to give up trying to control everything in my athletic world (while still making my career a collaborative effort). I am always reminded that I am a human, not a robot. And as a human, there are going to be things that happen that are out of my control. Seriously, thank you, Rob, for being the coach that you are. Thank you for bringing my focus back to center on the hard days, and for being equally excited for me in the moments of triumph on the good days. And thank you for always always always reminding me to Keep It Movin’. 

And in terms of life, this has given me the peace I need to pursue my dreams both on and off the track.

I have faith that the dreams that God has put on my heart are real and genuine. I have faith that He is providing and will continue to provide exactly what I need at exactly the right time according to HIS plan, not mine. I have faith that the dreams and visions that I have planned for myself vastly pale in comparison to the dreams and visions that God has planned for me. And I have faith that trading in a life of having control in exchange for a life of adventure with The Lord has proven and will always prove to be one hundred percent worth it.

I got home from my run and had to ring the sleety rain out from my clothes before I even walked inside. I stuffed some newspaper in my shoes in attempt to dry out the frigid dampness. I never did brush that knot out of my hair. I just kinda wore my hair in a bun for a few days and let it be while it worked it’s self out (not recommended for muscle knots… only hair knots). I grabbed my foam roller, a felt point pen, and the paper copy of my log. And in the margin, I doodled the same words I’ve scribbled a hundred times before: 

Keep It Movin’. 

 

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