Running Revelations to Remember: Six Steps in the Right Direction
This morning features a little blast from the writing past. Enjoy!
I have always enjoyed running. For me, it's been a beautiful synthesis of toil and release, an activity that helps me clear away the clutter from my thinking and just be. My running time centers me and puts everything else in perspective, not to mention that I feel way better after a run than I did beforehand. I've been training for my marathon for a few months now, and I've learned some things along the way. Some of these are statements of the obvious, but maybe they will resonate with you. For each musing, I'll end with a question. Let me know which insight most resonated with you! Here goes:
1) Commit to it.
The moment when I purchased my race ticket for my marathon was a gamechanger. Until that point I ran because I wanted to, but found I wasn't running like I wanted to. Of course, commitment isn't only related to running, but for me, running was a specific place where I wanted to see growth and greater consistency. Is there some area of your life, some venture where you are feeling lessthanfulfilled? Maybe it's time for a commitment. Buy the ticket. Bite the bullet. Remove the option for a "plan b." That's a good first step.
2) Just do it.
If you're anything like me, then overthinking can be a stumbling block to doing what you love or feel called to. Maybe it's a desire to do things with excellence, or maybe a sense that there isn't enough time to do it. Whatever the reason, thinking can sometimes get in the way of doing. In relation to your work, to a project you're passionate about, etc., doing SOMETHING is a lot more than nothing. There are days when I don't wake up on time and need to squeeze in my run at the middle or end of the day. As a morning runner, I generally don't enjoy these alternatives as much as my morning run but I know I will feel better after I do it. A four mile is better than a half hour of couch surfing. Let's get out of our heads sometimes and get into action! Are you prone to overthought or delayed action? What is the one thing that you need to "just do?" Or, what places have you "just done it" and reaped the benefits of that action?
3) Plan ahead and stick to the plan.
"Just doing it" only gets you so far though. Then the need for intentionality, for systems and accountability come in to play. If I wake up without a sense of what my run is for the morning, I'm forced to take on a lastminute planning project: "What am I going to do?" Forming the habit of running is important, and giving forethought to it is the extra leg work that makes everything easier. Not only that, but having set times where I KNOW I am going to run aid focus. If I know when I am going to run and where, then doing anything less then what I commit to is selling myself short. Is the same true for you? In what area of your life have you noticed intentional planning benefiting you?
4) Stretching Is Part of the Workout, "Be" Well.
Flexibility is not my greatest strength, and I have often overlooked this element of training in the past. But soon, I find myself stiff, sore, distracted and ineffective in the running. I think stretching can be hard for me because it doesn't "feel productive." I don't feel active, busy. When I feel pressed for time, it can be easy (and tempting) to move mindlessly onto the next todo, but without a stretching/reflective break, I often don't feel ready. Similarly, when I work nonstop without intentional breaks in my day, I get burnt out, tired and become driven to distraction. Stopping for intentional breaks to stretch my body and mind leaving space for me to just BE have turned into some of the most productive moments of my day. How do you find restoration for the things you do?
5) Every step is an Adventure, Enjoy it.
I already said that I enjoy running, I always have. As I've transitioned into a more minimal/barefoot running style, I have become more acutely aware of the need to take things on a stepbystep basis. I'm more aware of the input I'm receiving from the ground up, and am responding accordingly. "Ow, that hurts. Must mean I need to change something." "How is my breathing?" These thoughts and questions come organically as needed and can be addressed in the moment. Being more aware of my body is part of it, but I'm also becoming more aware of the whole experience of running. This is when I get my head away from numbers, away from lap timers, away from some of the data and pay more attention to other details. I can take in the sunrise, listen to birds (and cars and airplanes), savor smells of flowering plants and enjoy being active and alive in the world. What practices help you to enjoy the moment? When do you feel most alive?
6) Look Up: Keep a Long-Term Perspective.
Sometimes as I'm running I find that I'm only looking a few feet in front of me. It's usually at a point when my mind is wandering or when I'm feeling tired. Usually I find that when I look down a few things happen: My pace slackens. My posture changes. Everything kind of shrinks and slows. The best way I know to overcome this scenario is to find a focal point off in the distance. When my eyes are set high for something ahead of me, everything about me realigns to rise to the challenge. I consciously recommit to the goal, and I go after it. Sometimes the circumstances of life can seem overwhelming, like a really steep hill you don't feel you have energy to climb, but resetting focus on something ahead of you can provide perspective to break through. In your life, what goals or beliefs or dreams energize your hard work in the present? How do you break through circumstantial challenges?
Really these are insights about a life-well lived more than they are about running, it just so happens that a primary area of my life that they speak is running. How do these insights speak to you? What did you hear today?