managing expectations

photos from petroglyph provincial park, ontario.

photos from petroglyph provincial park, ontario.

i’m in the room with my physiotherapist. flipped over, she’s working on my feet while i’m asking 100 questions.

my foot has been acting strange for weeks and i’m still lost as to what is making it so. i walk, i run, i stretch, i sleep - i practice many of the tenets of physical health and wellness (alongside the requirements of a healthy training cycle) so i’m lost as to what could be creating this issue, this late in the game.

in 16 days i will run the ultra trail hurricana 125km race in la malbaie QC. this will be the longest i’ve ever run, as well as the most mountainous i will have run (considering the length/elevation of the race). i’ve been training for over a year, and i’ve been so so so excited to challenge myself to this race without any expectation.

that is, until some kind of injury starts messing with my vibe.

meditating upon my expectations.

meditating upon my expectations.

at first, i thought not much of it. i’m used to aches and pains. i’m a very self-aware person who is mastering the art of letting my body guide me in what it needs and what it wants. however as i kept training and i could feel it getting worse and more strange - so my response was to take some time off, slow down; acknowledging the pain and then take care of it. the first week wasn’t so scary - i’ve done this before when needed, and a good attitude is usually all you need to get over the hurdle. yet as week one turned into week two - and as week two turns into week three - i keep thinking to myself:

“what if i can’t race?”,

“what if i can’t make the distance?”,

“what if i hurt myself and lose more than i bargained for?”

it’s hard not to get overwhelmed when it feels like everything you’ve been working for could potentially slip through your fingers. it’s hard not to feel like a failure - taking on martyrdom for what you feel you have earned through your efforts. are we not guaranteed something for the things we must endure day-to-day? what exactly are we “owed” for when things don’t go our way?

i mean, some days it’s life. work, relationships, scheduling, responsibilities - they take a toll on us all, and they can definitely interfere with our vibrational energy. other days it could be an injury, occurrence, interaction (you name it) that spins us on our heads and throws us off. either way: life happens. we’re not in control of the circumstances - and we never will be.

this too is life. we make plans and create expectations - but things seldom ever go to plan. and while i’m not advocating that we don’t journal, create goals or plan into our futures - i do think it is a skill to be able to look at a situation and know when it’s time to pull out a new page*.

(*i would also like to note at this time that while we all have choice in how we respond to life every day - that some peoples choices may be more free or open than others. issues like race, gender, class, culture, war, ability… they all get in the way of someones capacity to respond to their circumstances. absolute freedom of choice is a privilege, and if you experience it unencumbered by the aforementioned baggage, you should count yourself extra lucky).

now i’ve been working hard, running, training and doing all the things - i’ve put in a good effort, and i have taken this challenge seriously. i’ve managed to walk/run/hike 4000km in the last calendar year. i’ve done yoga almost every single day. i’ve gotten 8 hours of sleep a night. i have visualized this race every single day since the moment i clicked “register”. i’ve shared with my community, and they have checked-in on me every step of the way. so if i were to get down on myself right now (which is easy to do no matter who you are) how would that improve my chances of success? what would be the advantage to getting frustrated? to throw in the towel after coming this far? what would i be saying about why i chose to do this to begin with? perhaps: i deserve this because i worked for it. that i am entitled to it because i signed up.

of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. life is not guaranteed. we are born and we die. we experience life through lenses and filters - but we all have the same opportunity to get up every morning and make our lives what we want to make of it (even in spite of sociocultural restrictions that may hold us back). just because we choose growth and challenge and progress does not mean that we deserve or are owed for that which we have worked towards.

hard work is an effort we make in the pursuit of greatness - however it is no guarantee of such.

one of may track nights for speed work with the newmarket road runners.

one of may track nights for speed work with the newmarket road runners.

i knew when i signed up that it would be likely that i could fail. the chance of not completing the journey was ever-present - and likely the reason i’ve been preparing so diligently along the way. my foot originally began hurting after i dropped something on it at work. no matter how much diligence and preparation i could have chosen - a mere accident could be the result of my attempt.


the last few weeks have been (arguably) the hardest in my training. failed runs, aborted runs, shitty-feeling runs, and no running at all has taken its toll on my psyche. i’ve felt low, frustrated and like it’s all slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. however its taken a year of pushing myself to get through the training and the weather and myself to get to where i am now - how could it take three mere weeks to undo everything i have hustled for?

even so, that might be the case. i may have done all of this for absolutely naught. i may run 10km on race day or i may complete the full 125km - really it’s up to my spirit and the universe to decide. what do i want? what can i make out of all the choices i have in front of me? how can i manage my choices alongside my expectations so that i can glean the lessons and the rich growth still present in all of it?

i guess in a two weeks i’ll find out.

Nomad Pace