Photo: The Toronto Star, October 3, 1983
Marathons are not my forte.
This is not the day to tell the story of my one completed marathon, or the story of the biggest disappointment of my running career—getting injured right before the 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials.
Today I wanted to reflect a little on a couple of marathon writing projects that I’m engaged in. The first is my Olympic Training Log, whose finish line will be crossed on September 30, 2012, exactly 24 years after my Olympic 10,000m final in Seoul. The second project is something I call my “Three Good Things” journal. What have I learned from these long-haul writing projects? Can I be more successful at them than I was at the 42.2 km run?
I’ve currently been doing weekly updates of my Olympic Training Log for just over two months. At first I got a lot of views and enthusiastic comments. Now it appears that I just have a small number of followers whose interest in the minutae of my workout descriptions never falters. I’m not entirely sure I’ll complete this marathon. I’ve encountered a few difficulties:
- I sorely regret that I don’t have more photos from my earlier running days. Blog posts are much more appealing when they include visual elements.
- I’ve discovered that taking, choosing, finding and preparing photos for my posts often takes much longer than the actual writing part.
- I’ve been shocked by the faultiness of my memory! Often, reading my Training Log reveals that my injury experiences and racing experiences are not the same as I remembered them. It’s showed me how memory becomes distorted as we retell the same inaccurate stories over the years. Also, the memories of some experiences remain perfectly clear over many years, while the details of other events disappear entirely.
My second writing project is a journal I keep on my computer called “Three Good Things.” I’ve been keeping this journal for nine months now.
For me the past year has been a very challenging one; it’s been a time of many personal and professional changes. This journal is something I’ve chosen to do to remind myself that I can be happy no matter what. The journal is simple and brief. Every day, I write three good things that happened that day. A “thing” can be any joyful or positive experience I had, whether by myself or with a friend or a group. It can be an inspirational thought or a flash of insight from my own mind, from someone else, or from a book. It can be a view of beauty that made me feel awed or grateful. It can be a simple pleasure, like good food or wine or the way my body feels during or after a workout. It can be music. It can be intellectual stimulation. It can be the satisfaction of completing a work project.
What I’ve learned is that even on the most awful days, days of exhaustion or heartbreak or bleak hopelessness, I can always think of something good. I admit, there have been a few days when I gave up after listing only two good things. Other days, I might really have five different items crammed into one sentence on my list.
This journal works! It keeps me aware of how rich and joyful my life can be. So I will keep it up—this is a marathon that has no finish line.