Thoughts Well Chosen

Run the Mile You Are InI do not know who quipped these wise words, but they have been especially helpful to me in regards to my run training of late. In fact, when I consider how useful this mantra has been for my running, I realize that this idea easily transfers into my non-running life too.

Whether putting in the miles for long road races or technical trail races, I often find I need to avail myself of this wisdom. Run training cycles can wear on a runner’s mind as much as the miles wear on the body, and I find I am most tempted to quit a run when facing those tired, anxious thoughts during long solo runs. However, now that I have added this mantra to my runner’s tool box, I have discovered a powerful implement to beat off negative run-thinking.

As many runners will attest, the power of a well chosen mantra can allay and repurpose unproductive thinking during a hard run. This mantra has become my new best-friend and a powerful antidote for run-weary thoughts. When I focus my mind on these words, I  am firmly re-connected to my body as it moves in the present moment. From this present perspective I settle my breathing and my pace and I find it possible to relax my grip on the unknown, which is measured in miles to go until I finish.

Savor the quest, not the finish. The Cool Impossible ~ Eric Orton

Thoughts of the unknown are always projected onto the movie screen of the future. The minutes, hours, and days which we cannot physically inhabit, become the playground for bullies who taunt our imagination with fearful images of ourselves as incompetent, inadequate school yard failures.

This driving need of ours, to know what we cannot know, has the potential to strip us not only of physical energy but also of happiness and joy for the journey we are currently running; whether it’s the next 100 feet of uphill trail or the next blank page of a manuscript which needs to be filled with narrative, story and conviction.

Every race is a question, and I never know until the last yards what the answer will be. Long Run Solution ~ Joe Henderson

It’s funny how this one little mantra has taught me something about thoughts well chosen; about how thoughts have no power over me except to distract me into believing them as true. And I have become keenly aware of the importance of choosing quality thoughts, because quality thoughts produce quality running and quality living.

When I direct my thoughts to inhabit the moments of now, they clearly have their effect on me. When I run in the present mile, I have focus and strength and breath for each step I take in the present mile. I do not, I can not, and I will not worry about whether I’ll have breath or strength for the miles ahead. I am training myself to just keep moving…for now.

From this perspective I am able to focus my mind and body on the powerful physical movements I am making towards my finish line, rather than wasting precious energy entertaining ideas of what I may not be able to accomplish.

My run training has taught me that as my body responds to the training effects of physical repetition and practice, my mind likewise improves its ability to inhabit and reflect on the current moment rather projecting itself into the future.

I feel silly admitting that at 50+ years of age, I am still learning how to live positively in the reality of the present, fully inhabiting all the moments which make this time now.  But here’s the beauty of learning how to live in the land of now: with every step and stride I take, I grow in confidence that my breath and legs will be adequate for the journey…to carry me through the mile I am already in.

Why Do I Run?

Why do I run? I run because it makes me feel so fully alive…in my body and in my mind. It is a spiritual, mystical experience; it is not something I fully understand, this feeling, this need to move my legs and feet. Nor can I easily explain or define why running is so meaningful to me. But run I do, because it magically makes time slow down and with every breath I deeply breathe I exist and am firmly rooted in the presence of now.

And running gives me so many choices…I may propel myself forward in any given direction at any given speed or effort. I may run lightly as a leaf blown about on the morning’s gentle breeze. Flitting here and there…gliding, tumbling, or plodding…it doesn’t matter which way I go, up or down, my feet follow one after the other, traversing the hilly streets all around my little town…until they wish to run no more and then they walk me safely home again.

While running, we can use the body as another language in which to express our longing for God. Running artfully, our bodies become a beautiful liturgy of the physical. Running the Spiritual Path ~ Roger Joslin

I run to remember, to remind myself that I am alive; older with each passing day it’s true, but alive and awake enough to breathe deep so as to expel the staleness of the moments just past; I move toward each new moment with purpose; I chase it down with great anticipation for what will appear; for what will arrive and for what will depart. To run is to strive for all that I am and all that I may be.

Why do I run? Because I can; because I must; because I love to feel so fully, so painfully alive…in my body and in my mind. It is a spiritual, mystical experience.

Run Shared = Fun Shared

One year ago today I posted on my blog about my second running of the Cinco de Mayo 10K/5K event in Tucson. I’m not sure why I looked at my post from last year, but after reading it I knew I wanted to write about today’s experience, my third entry of this race venue on this first day of May, 2016.

Much like 2015, the New Year 2016 found me busily occupied with family caretaking duties until late March with little time to run except 1 or 2 days a week. During the month of April I was able to return to some regular training, but I knew it would be at least another month before I could be race ready for the summer season. However, it was during this time of refreshed training when I realized that several of my personal training clients desired to improve their aerobic conditioning. Wouldn’t this be a good opportunity to challenge them to enter the Cinco de Mayo 5K event and join me in walking the course?

Well, in short order we had a team of 7 individuals willing to put their best two feet forward for a race in which they would only have 3 weeks to train. While this is not how I usually prepare my clients to train for a race event, the urgency of the looming 5K certainly provided us all with an extra dose of focus and purpose for our aerobic training in the days leading up to today.

Now imagine my delight, and theirs too, when we discovered that two of our team members placed in their age groups this morning! Had I run today’s race, I would likely have placed too, but what I discovered was something even more valuable than another personal age group achievement: A joy shared, is a joy doubled.

What I cherish most about today’s event as it relates to all the days which have passed in this crazy busy Spring of 2016, is the tiny role I had in helping these fun-ready ladies reach and exceed their goals on race day today. Cheers and high-fives to all of Team Oracle!

 

Wind and Rain

I had to kick my butt out the door this afternoon for today’s run. Not having a race on my calendar to train for really makes it easy to stay indoors, especially when the weather is threatening rain with gusty winds. It’s not that I haven’t run in the rain before or that I’m afraid of getting wet. I ran earlier this week on a morning that looked less rain-ful than today and I ended up getting hailed on before I finished the 4-mile out and back. Rain is one thing, hail is much more hurtful.

Thankfully, the rain held back for me this afternoon, and the temperature was perfect (50 degrees +/-) even with the gusting wind. Today’s run put 30 miles on my legs this week, and they felt a little weary and my breath too came in heaves because I was running at mile high elevation this afternoon. But all in all, I am glad I got over myself, and got out the door and moved myself down the trail and back.

Running…How To Do It

“I told him I’d started running, and I wasn’t sure if I knew how to do it. He said there wasn’t all that much to it, aside from remembering to alternate feet.”
Step by Step ~ Lawrence Block

This quote made me laugh when I first read it and I knew I wanted to share it on my blog one day soon. I just finished reading this book and enjoyed Mr. Block’s memoir; running and walking was (and I hope still is) a prominent feature of his life’s story.

Tomorrow I’ll be running my first 10K of 2015 and I’ll probably be smiling while I think about this silly little quote about alternating my feet. The Dr. Gann’s Cinco de Mayo 10K is in it’s 35th year, but tomorrow will only be the second time I’ve run this race. It’s an out and back mixed, hilly route which thankfully ends with the last 2 miles downhill. Should be nice and warm too, around 70 degrees at 7am.

I’m not as trained this year as I was last year, my schedule was full of work and caretaking for a sick parent, so tomorrow’s race is for the pure pleasure of running, simply because I can and I have no where else to be at 7 o’clock in the morning. I hope to at least run the same pace as I did last year, but if I’m feeling fresh and strong you can count on me to push the pace up a bit too. So here’s to tomorrow’s race and to how to do it!

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving. ~ Anatole France

Rituals, Routines and Religion

My morning ritual is one that I especially look forward to: rise, eat banana, make coffee; sip coffee; read my devotions; be quiet…listen…wonder…listen…pray…jot down the ideas or inspirations that have been piqued during my morning quiet time. I will write about these things; I will think about these things as I prepare  for the new day. So now you know my morning ritual…for waking up and for making a connection with the Divine One.

Now I’m ready for my morning exercise routine; I’ll have some toast or half a bagel and get ready to go for my morning run. On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays I head out the door for a 3 to 8 mile run, depending on the schedule for the day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I put on my Zumba fitness garb and lead an hour long group fitness class. Saturday or Sundays are reserved for long runs of 8 to 10 miles or a mountain bike ride with my husband. My exercise routine is so well entrenched in my body and on my calendar that I feel completely out of sync when I miss a morning run or class.

But that’s the value of having and using rituals and routines. They help us stay connected and in touch with those activities that are important for us to do every day. Do these things long enough and they become a part of you, of your subconscious.

However, rituals and routines do have their downsides. Rather than keeping us on track, they can become a source of  great boredom for us…in other words we can feel stuck in a rut by the very routine that once gave a us a firm sense of being or accomplishment. If I ever feel stuck or bored in my routines, then I know they have outlived their purpose. It’s time to recycle or reinvent a system that will continue to propel me in a positive, forward frame of mind and/or way of going.

We should not hold a ‘religious’ attachment to rituals and routines. Even though their very existence in our daily life provides a semblance of structure, this framework should not be allowed to solidify if it is no longer useful for its original purpose. If our rituals and routines fail to motivate us to engage in the desired behaviors or actions for which we initially employed them, then it’s likely that they have become a religion of tired belief rather than a reflex of purposeful action.

Are your rituals and routines working for you? If not, don’t be afraid to change things up for yourself. Your creativity, your fitness, your personal goals or spirituality can only improve when you reset your rituals and routines.

 

Quote

Running!

If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think what it might be. In running, the mind flies with the body; the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with out feet and the swinging of our arms.
The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates