Late last summer and early fall, as my vegetable and flower gardens produced their bounty, I worked to collect seeds. The practice of saving seeds has not been a foreign concept to me, but certainly not something that I have done before. I had the time and the process seemed closer to home and closer to nature’s way than zipping down to the local garden store for packaged seeds, so I took the time and did the work. Saving seeds from some plants took more time and effort than others, nonetheless it allowed for a further understanding of the vegetables that I was growing and a better appreciation of the distinct growth phases that occur while moving seed to maturation.

So now, despite the snow blanketing the hard ground outside my window, it is time to start this year’s cycle. I gather my collection of small 2 ½-x-3 ¼-inch manila envelopes and four-ounce mason jars that are holding the harvested seeds from last year. Just hearing their movement in their packaging elevates my excitement for this summer. I prep the seed trays with seed-starter soil and then label the rows so to not lose track of what seed was planted where. I carefully pour the seeds from the envelope labeled ‘Capsicum annuum’ into my concave hand. I can feel my eyes gleam with awe, as if I am watching little bits of gold fall directly into my hand. I mutter “Capsicum annuum” to myself. I must have been feeling scholarly last fall, I think. Luckily, I also made note that these are the seeds of my bell-pepper plants whose fruits ripen from green to brown. I count out 10 seeds and then return the remainder of my riches into the envelope. I tuck each seed into some soil and continue on with to next seed packet, “Solanum lycopersicum. I hear the furnace kick on and automatically go to check the wood stove to make sure it doesn’t need attention. All in all, it seems counterintuitive to be planting seeds now. Questioning myself, I once again I check my math to make sure my timing for transplanting, what will be hearty seedlings in 70 days, into the outdoor soil is correct.

This counting of days and planting of seeds reminds me a lot of my training. This year, the seed that I have planted in my mind and allowed to germinate is returning to the UTMB. Over the past several months of training, I have worked on my aerobic foundation and formed the roots that I will need to be successful later on in the season. A couple weekends ago, I ran the Georgia Death Race as a training race, where I felt like I pushed through the surface and unfurled my first leaves. I am ready for further growth, yet I feel that this is a time, where like a seedling, I can be vulnerable. I need to remind myself that each phase is not mutually exclusive, especially now that the GDR race has given me a taste of the sunlight. I acknowledge that I need patience and persistence to further develop before flowering and exposing the true fruits of my labor.

Perhaps the comparison is corny, but in the moment it seems to make perfect sense to me. This activity of planting my harvested seeds has reminded me that like the growing of fruits and vegetables, my training takes time, thought, and patience. It also requires nourishment and care, and if rushed can be more susceptible to mishap. As I navigate my way through each training phase, my hope is that I can appreciate and respect the process from start to finish so that the end product is as bountiful as I envision in my mind during this early portion of the cycle.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • What seeds are you planting, metaphorically or literally, in your life and running right now?
  • In this age where instant progress and results are rewarded, do you find particular challenge in lengthy life and running processes–like a long training bout before a goal race, navigating an extended relationship issue, or working long term toward career goals?
  • How do you sort out the dueling desires of instant gratification with the rewards that take time to obtain?
Aliza Lapierre's seedling

Photo: Aliza Lapierre

Aliza Lapierre

finds peace and a sense of belonging while trail running. Her passion began by exploring the trails in her home state of Vermont and has been regenerated by exploration across the world. She continually works to redefine her perceived boundaries, while trying to inspire others to explore their capabilities as well.

There are 2 comments

  1. Fernando Baeza

    The analogy is not “corny” at all. :D Both worlds (running, planting) have a natural order, both need patience, and lots of water! ;D

  2. Justine

    Metaphorically – miles and incline as a newbie trail/ultra runner. I am running my first ever ultra in May and I’m trying out a new kind of training plan since I’m busier than ever. Literally, I’ve planted kale and pumpkin seeds. I live in a cold climate and need to find crops that are relatively easy.

    While I really enjoyed the half marathon distance, the marathon was a different beast. I’ve been thinking that anything longer than a half marathon on roads is just not for me, so building up to an ultra where I live has been hard. I live in a valley and to get any good distance I expect to run over 1000 meters in elevation gain on any given long run. What helps me at the end of a long run is calling my husband and he will come and meet me for the last couple of kilometers with our dog. He lights a fire at home, sets out the smoothie that I prepared before leaving on my run, and asks how it went. He is my biggest fan and support. I always start to lose motivation about 10 weeks into training, but all the articles and videos really inspire me to get out there.

    I’m quite lucky with my job. I work at sea for a few weeks and then earn a bit of overtime hours that I can use to take the day off if the weather is perfect for a run in the mountains.

    I have always believed that if I really wanted something that it would work out. There is always struggle, but without the struggle, I’d never appreciate the easy things nearly as much. It’s a total cliche, but 100% true for me.

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