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Ten trail runners were recently asked about the best advice they’d been given. What I find interesting is the common thread among their answers–to allow for process.

Progression, unfolding, development, growth. These are characteristics of movement. Even rest–a type of stillness–is part of shifting that happens within the whole. An underlying message in each of the quotes below is integrity. We need downtime in which to allow energy to strengthen our mind and body. Creating space in my life for rest and reflection allows me to move more fluidly and with more intention and energy in the rest of my life (and training).

It’s easy to push too hard, which leads to degradation. Many people have experienced this, but they still throw fuel on the fire with hopes of gaining control. And then there’s the opposite, not pushing hard enough. To me, this refers to lack of consistency. Small steps taken repeatedly are both easier and will take us forward faster than trying to jump in leaps and bounds, thereby risking sudden stops.

I’m currently dealing with a niggle in the body that’s asking for space, awareness, and care. Part of me is frustrated because I want to maximise my current training opportunity (time and location). Yet, another part of me reaches in with warm words of encouragement, reminding me that this is all a part of a process. I’m being invited to participate consciously in order to create resiliency, as well as strength of character and body, on a scale larger than I can currently see.

We all know the cliché to stop and smell the roses, but there’s truth in it because it’s an invitation to experience existence with greater vibrancy. As Sri Mati said in a recent Rich Roll podcast, “Finding connection to your heart through movement, through yoga, through meditation, through spiritual connection where you understand and you know that all is well, you understand that everything that is happening is happening exactly on plan. And now you have an opportunity to choose how you’re going to meet that and how you’re going to participate in it.”

To me, this is not the same thing as ‘everything happens for a reason’. Instead it represents acceptance of what is and commitment to integrity and responsible participation.

What do I do when faced with injury, niggles, and obstacles? I breathe, look around, take stock, and move forward a bit slower knowing that I’ll be stronger (and faster 😉 ) in the long run because of it.

“Rest is part of training, not avoiding training.” ~Magdalena Boulet
Jack Daniels, a legendary running coach, convinced Magdalena of the value of rest and began putting complete rest days into her training schedule. “Consistency is what leads to improvements.”

“Don’t try to make it happen. Let it happen.” ~Meghan Arbogast
“Relax and let it happen, rather than overthink it and worry…. The work is done before the race begins.”

“Find a comfortable pace—and then go a bit slower.” ~Liza Howard

“Perfection is in the process.” ~Mike Foote
“The closest I will get to perfection lies in the day-to-day training. Prioritizing the entire process, versus a single day of racing, has allowed me to have a much more balanced, resilient, interesting and fulfilling relationship with my running.”

“Take it easy: prioritize rest days, get ample sleep, refuel adequately, rest at the smallest sign of injury.” ~Clare Gallagher

“Character over performance.” ~Mario Mendoza
“The truth is, for most runners the ride is not always smooth. You get injured, you get sick, you mess up on your nutrition during an ultra, you get sent the wrong way in a course, you go out too fast. But the way you react to situations really tests your character. And character is something you can take with you in all aspects of life.”