Crazy about running…

People who are close to me often ask me why do you run? Are you crazy? My answer is I run to keep me from going crazy and then there are runs like yesterday where I can actually say I’m crazy about running…

Yesterday I woke up at 4:45 to participate in the Mount Hope Bridge Run. This run is a point to point 5k that includes running over an 89 year old suspension bridge from Portsmouth to Bristol Rhode Island. It is the only time pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. The early wake up time is because runners are shuttled from Roger Williams University to the starting line at the South end of the bridge.

I drive over this bridge at least twice a day four to five times a week to work and back. The views are spectacular which explains why so many of us are rear-ended on the bridge each year. You can’t help gawking at the spectacular sights. So to run this race was a no-brainer for me! I would’ve got out of bed at 2am if I had to.

The weather forecast wasn’t that pleasant, rain and possible thunder showers were predicted.Thankfully they held off and the horrendous humidity of the past week was tolerable.

Participants gathered on the Portsmouth side exchanging small talk, anxiously awaiting the start of the race. I love meeting people at these events, you have varied backgrounds but a common interest and on race day a goal to participate and finish. There are always conversations about different races, gear, injuries and training. It makes me smile to see families participating — Parents passing on their love of fitness to their children. Runners are the nicest people, they encourage and cheer each other, even though they are strangers.

It was finally time to start the race, the horn sounded and we were off! The views were spectacular, people were taking pictures and selfies. The first part was a steady incline until we got to the middle of the bridge where the American Flag was hanging. I have to admit I got a little lump in my throat passing under the flag. We continued on to mile one not too far from the base of the bridge then we headed toward the entrance of RWU and ran through the campus. There were a lot of rolling hills but the campus was lovely. The weather was still cooperating until the end. Where I crossed  the finish line not with a PR but fairly close. I was greeted with fist bumps by some of the guys I met earlier in the day. I caught up with my student and we took in the views of the lighthouse and the bay.

What an amazing run! What an amazing morning! I’m Crazy about running on days such as this…

Run on,

G

 

 

Bike Path/Life Path

During today’s long training run I had plenty of time to reflect (trying not to think about the heat and humidity ) on life; its randomness and its synchronicity the duality of Tao…

These thoughts initially started on Friday while running the bike path in Colt State Park. There’s this section of the path where gulls like to drop shellfish to crack them open. The path is littered with fragments of shells large pieces to very minute ones. The randomness of the sizes reminded me of people and their lives — How random longevity  and abundance is… I know there is some control with our health by how we care for ourselves and wealth can be earned but there needs to be a certain amount of synchronicity or fate…

Today I was reflecting on how the bike path is like life’s path; There is beauty and there is danger. People who are focused only on their own gains and people who are looking out for one another. Everyone is sharing the same piece of earth going at different speeds and directions, trying to connect with friends and family while trying to avoid others we happen upon. There are bumps, briers, and blind curves to be aware of, yet among all the potential dangers there’s amazing natural beauty to admire. A lot like life don’t you think?

If that isn’t enough, the bike path has been recently repaved, and with that it’s gotten narrower and more dangerous. Rather like peoples’ mindsets — Also more dangerous…

I know this post is a bit heavy but so is my heart a small boy lost his life on that path a week ago, a random cruel accident. Which has made me more aware of my life’s path and how important it is to be grateful for my piece of shell…

Run, or walk your path well…

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Flexibility…

Each week at my martial art studio we have a physical focus and a mental focus. This week’s lessons happened to be the same thing; flexibility…

Being flexible in all areas of our lives is important. Physically it will allow us to move with more ease, and lessen our chances of injury. In martial arts, especially arts like Tae Kwon Do that focus on kicking, it is important to stretch regularly to improve and maintain flexible hips and legs.

With that said we all need to spend more time warming up before workouts and having a good cool down stretch post work out. I know as a runner (sloggers need to stretch) I’m often pressed for time before and after my run and don’t always stretch the way I should. However this particular post has more to do with the mental aspect of flexibility. If you have a question about stretching, feel free to ask and I will direct you to resources.

On to the point; being more flexible in a me first have it now society is becoming more and more difficult — No one wants to bend or give way to someone else or different idea. Me, Mine, Me… Is today’s mantra — My Way used to be a song by Sinatra it is now an anthem for today’s society.

So when things or people push don’t resist, let it flow past you, like water… Bruce Lee said,”Be like water my friend.” He was right. Not resisting doesn’t make us weak, it keeps us sane. Water is very powerful, check out the Grand Canyon. Also know that everyone is not following the same agenda — We’re all in the middle of something. So the next time your appointment has been rescheduled or your flight has been delayed. Take a breath and do some light stretching and take time to be more flexible, you’ll be happier and healthier for it…

Run on,

G

Improving With Age?

I’m not talking about wine or cheese, but me and my physical health and fitness.

Some people believe when you reach a certain age that it’s time to sit back and recall how good you once were. It is my belief and my truth that hitting the age of sixty inspired me to get better than before. Not that I was ever bad, by most standards I was in good health and very active, albeit thirteen pounds heavier with a resting pulse of about 60. Fast forward a year and four months and I’m under 125lbs, with a resting pulse of 45. I couldn’t run for a full mile without taking a walk break I now run seven to eight without a walk break. I have less joint, and back pain, more stamina and for the first time in 10 years I ran a nine minute mile!

I’m writing this not to brag (but feeling pretty badass right now) but to inspire and show people it is never to late to get healthier by getting fitter.

This past weekend we held a belt exam at my martial arts school, and this week I’m meeting with the students to review their exams. I’m always excited and happy to hear their before and now accounts of martial arts training. Many adult students have never trained seriously in anything prior to starting martial arts and are often looking to get into shape. So after experiencing just a few months of consistent and dedicated physical training these students are telling me they have more stamina with their work, less aches and pains. Most importantly they are now motivated to keep improving not just their martial art skill but their health.

You see we can get better, we just need compelling reasons to do so… I can’t think of any better reasons than to be healthier and happier, can you? Then what are you waiting for get off your butt, put your phone down, and lace up your walking or running shoes and hit the pavement!

Run on,

G

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Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Sole to Soul Connect

I’ve just got another pair of Brooks running shoes, these are called Anthem – I didn’t name them, just bought them. Allow me a moment of shoe GEEKness… These shoes like the Pure Flows I normally  wear are low drop trainers. Which mean they’re almost flat, less heel if you will. This type of shoe gives a more natural ride and allows me a better mid strike with my form — More of a connected feel.

Enough Geek speak… Brooks has the word connect written on the inner sole and no truer words have been written — Not so much for the science of the shoe but running in general. The moment I lace up my running shoes and run out the door, I feel more connected to the earth and the world around me.

In Oriental medicine and the practice of Qui Gong in the center of your forefoot is the meridian point kidney one. A rooting point, where you ground and center yourself, absorb chi from the earth.

In the practice of martial arts, there is a mind body connection, just like there is in running. However you need to be mindfully aware of it. When we just go through the motions just for the exercise we lose so much of the true benefits. I guess this is why many people who take up running don’t enjoy it, they’ve never made the Sole to Soul Connect.

I know when I run I’m more in tuned to the world around me, there are baby rabbits, woodchucks, Osprey with a fish in their talons, tiny chipmunks trying to trip me, glorious skies, and too many floral scents to name. More importantly being among all this gives me a truer sense of my place in the world. My ego and self importance gets a comeuppance and I know that I’m connected to everything on this planet and no one being is more important than the next.

These sort of discoveries are why I run, I don’t know if I would be physically better or worse if I didn’t run.  I do know I’d be mentally less capable of managing stress and less spiritually evolved.

asphalt-clouds-endurance-421160I’ll close with a quote that speaks to connecting to the world; “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” W.B. Yeatts

How do you connect?

Run on G

 

Pacing

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One of the many things I’ve learned from running is pacing. Many beginners tend to start  off too quickly whether it is a long training run or a local road race. The object is to find your pace so that you can run efficiently throughout the race and finish with a kick.

Ironically I’m slow so my pacing is sloth, turtle, tortoise or in other words stop, walk, slog. All kidding aside, I do mind and record my pace more to understand what my body is doing rather than to win a race or obtain a PR.

Being a martial artist and a former nurse and a student of human nature I love learning about the mind-body connection and its effects on our daily lives. For instance yesterday I was feeling less than my usual self, I had a scratchy throat and general malaise – So I skipped my mid-week training run and opted for rest. I paced myself.

Even a few years ago that wouldn’t have happened, I would’ve ignored the signals my body was giving me and I would have gutted out the run. Probably feeling aggravated because nothing felt right and could have injured myself or exacerbated my mild cold symptoms to a full-blown bronchitis or pneumonia (it’s happened in the past).

Not running wasn’t the only way I paced myself, I also got extra rest and rescheduled a few tasks I had in my calendar. I’ve also learned to say no (not an easy task for me). Putting my health first has me saying no for the moment and rescheduling or if the task is too large absolutely no. A student of mine phrased it well when he told me, “It is easier to change a no to a yes, than a yes to a no.” He is right, how often do we agree to do something as a favor and it becomes a huge burden on your mental and physical health? By putting you first, pacing your self – You’ll make it to the end, of a race, a run and more importantly a healthy life…

Run on

G

Three Squares

During my training run today I was pondering a few of the things I’ve learned in life – So far…

When am I at my best?  I thought about it and I came up with when I check off these three squares everyday.

Number one, feed my soul; When I wake up I say thank you, to my higher power for I have another day. Then I read something spiritual anything from the Tao, the bible, or even an inspiring blog post. Then I meditate for at least five minutes but usually ten to thirty minutes. In order to do this I’m in bed by 10pm and awake at 5:30am.

With my spirit fed now it’s onto number two and feed my body; This isn’t just about eating healthy — Which I do. It’s about working my body. At sixty-one I typically work out seven days a week. I run three, weight train two, yoga two or three and martial arts three to four. As you can see many days there are double workouts. Maintaining a healthy body requires work. The body is meant to be active, training keeps my cardio vascular conditioning my resting pulse is 54, blood pressure 108/58. Maintaining flexibility and weight training provide me with balance and core strength, which hopefully keep me from having falls and injuries in my dotage.

Number three feed my mind; I have a number of older friends and family members that inspire me every day and the one thing they have in common is they feed their minds. Whether it’s my ninety something neighbor who reads the newspaper and does crossword and jigsaw puzzles, my mom who paints, bakes, and plays cards with her eighty something sister or there’s John (my stepdad) who at nearly eighty-nine maintains massive flower and vegetable gardens, changes the oil on his cars, prunes trees, paints houses and fixes just about anything. They all use their minds to work out problems. I enjoy learning, either a new martial art technique, something in business, a teaching tip or just general information I’m always seeking new interests. I learn something new everyday.

There you have it my happiness and my growth as an individual requires I check those three squares everyday…

What feeds you?

Run on,

G