Four weeks until my 10K, and I have not been very consistent about running. I got 5 miles in this morning, my longest run since the half-marathon in September. At one point I was slogging northward, arguing with myself about whether to take a walk break, when I had a flash of insight: training requires me to sow suffering in order to reap joy. This race is SO much fun. It has delighted me both times I've run it, and I know I'll enjoy it more if I am better prepared.
I have vivid memories of running that stretch of trail three years ago in chilly spring winds. For all that a person tries to appreciate the forsythia and be grateful for her beating heart, sometimes she still finds herself wishing the time away. But I've experienced that payoff multiple times now: you push your body as far as you can prudently push it, and it adapts. About two-thirds of the way through today's run I hit a stretch where the running felt almost effortless. It felt exactly right. The feeling only lasted for 5 minutes or so, but it gives me hope for next time.
There are plenty of areas in my life where applying discipline, even when I'd prefer not to, allows me to reap worthwhile rewards. The transformation is particularly conspicuous with running, though: suffering today --> delight next month. It put me in mind of a medieval alchemist, striving to turn lead into gold. Except this is alchemy that actually works.