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

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

 

Single Focus

Two weeks ago I was rear ended in bumper to bumper traffic, the accident woke me up to a new view.

We’ve all have been there (most of us) minding our own business and then “BAM” out of nowhere you’re now here… with a smashed in back bumper, trunk and a sore neck and back. So between holding back the angry frustrated tears and trying to compose yourself to do the right things on the insurance check list. You think what now?

You go through the bureaucratic hoops set up by your insurence and their insurance companies — You humble yourself to family and friends for rides once your car goes in for repair. Then maybe if you’re lucky like me you get to drive your old car, your best old car!

I borrowed my stepdad’s 92 Toyota Passeao which was mine until I sold it to him in 2000. It is a tiny five speed with no bells or whistles (no air conditioning, old radio, and no power anything). However it had one accessory my current car didn’t have PEACE!

No hands free to answer my phone, no radio flashing the song tital and artist, no compass directions or air tempeture to keep me from what I was supposed to be focusing on DRIVING! Oh and what fun this car is to drive!

I’ve since got my car back, but the basic driving reminded me of all the tings I enjoy most, running, martial arts, cycling and kayaking all of which require nothing but my power, my single focus on the task at hand simple uncomplicated just like my old 92 Passeao…

Where do you find your single focus?

Run on

Gin

1000 Days and 300 Miles

It’s been a milestone week for me. Not any of the big life events but those simple tasks that add up to a “Wow I did that” sort of milestones.

 

Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project and author of many wonderfully insightful books wrote; What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” I believe this to be true, which is why I’m writing about these minor milestones. Let me begin by explaining that I recently discovered ironically from Gretchen Rubin’s latest book The Four Tendencies that I’m an upholder. Which according to Ms. Rubin means I meet both outer and inner expectations, so things like 1000 meditation days and 300 miles on a pair of running shoes are sort of built into my tendency.

I’m very regimented I love lists, and I love to do things that make me a better person, like meditating daily and running three times a week. You see what you do every day… Yes 1000 days or 2.79 years of daily meditation earned me a tiny gold star on my Insight App this morning. According to my activity app on my Apple Watch I’ve run 300 miles since the end of August or the equivalent of running to New York City and back. Little things add up!

It’s important to recognize our mini-milestones I believe these little everyday things are a  part of what I like to call the 1% better. Which is sort of a mantra of mine to be 1% better than I was yesterday – It’s something that I’ve shared with my staff and students. I believe we get too wrapped up in working on the big things which are often looked at as the BIG change that will make my life perfect, my dreams come true… (The perfect mate, home, career, family – life ) DON’T EXIST!

What does exist is the ability to be a better person; to be more centered, more compassionate, more engaged, more forgiving, more flexible, more healthy than we were yesterday and isn’t this what we should be teaching children? Just be better than yesterday is so much less stressful than being the best! In the long run the out comes are far healthier.

I do know I’m 15lbs lighter and far more centered, patient, healthier and disciplined than I was 1000 days and 300 miles ago!

Do your 1% best,

Ginnie

Hills; The ones we run and the metaphorical ones that we run into…

I set out on my usual Wednesday 2 miler, looking forward to clearing my head, working up a sweat and trying to gain some perspective on what’s been a crazy start to 2018.

Running does all of the above, it’s my antidepressant, my fat burner, and my Gingko Biloba. Which is why most of these blogs are written soon after returning from my runs. Today’s hill thought is no exception. If you’ve been following my journey please excuse the next bit explaining how I started and where I am now (first I will be turning 61 in about six weeks, I’m a former nurse, who is a master teacher/owner of a martial arts school who decided to run a half marathon to celebrate her 60th year). I’ve run on and off since 1991 but didn’t become seriously committed to running until training for the half.

Now back  to the hills during my training and until very recently I walked slogged up most large hills. Then it occurred to me that I’m running six miles with relative ease the hills are no longer a physical but a mental challenge. That’s when I start using my soft eyes technique (borrowed from meditation). You simply direct your gaze to only a few feet in front of you. Focusing just a few feet kept me from seeing the size and steepness of the hill. I felt the shift in the incline much like on a treadmill but maintain my narrow focus to the task at hand running a few more feet. I’ve taken this lesson into my busy life, I try not to look at the enormity of a task or event, I maintain my focus on smaller tasks that will lead to completing or solving the challenge. Yes there are unexpected obstacles but just like the physical obstacles along my run I navigate them to the best of my ability and stay away from worry of completion just trusting that one step at a time will tackle any hill as long as I remain focused and committed…

Enjoy the process, the results are usually worth it!

Ginnie

Running through Winter…

I ran six miles today and it’s February 4th! That was my “Big Game”. To think a year ago I wouldn’t have entertained running in February – Maybe on a treadmill (then again this time last year it would have been 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill.)

Why is any of the above relevant? My point is no matter how old or where you are in you head-space you can change your thoughts. I hated winter and made all those around me fully aware of my feelings – I’d start whining in December and would continue to piss and moan through Easter. I would put on 5 to 10lbs every winter mostly through less exercise but also stress eating. I’d be checking the fifteen day forecast more often than a broker checks the market. My mood would be as cold as the weather.

What changed?  My attitude — I decided to run a half marathon. That goal got me to the gym and on the treadmill last winter and onto the roads this past spring and summer. I became a different person losing 15lbs, running more seriously 3 times per week; two shorter training runs and a long run on Sundays, getting to 12 miles before the half. I didn’t want to give up all that I gained so this year I got winter running gear.  I’ve been running when the weather or road conditions cooperate or hit the gym if the weather is bad. I’m still checking the 15 day forecast not so I can complain but so I can schedule my running. My attitude toward winter has changed, not that I love it but I found an appreciation for the rests it affords.

Winter teaches me that I’m not totally in control of what happens but I am in control of how I react to what happens.

I’ve taken advantage of the snow days and got a lot of paper work done, reading, listened to pod casts, watched Ted Talks. Things that I’d have less time to do in better weather. I’m finding more happiness in simple things like just sitting with my cat, building a puzzle with my 94 year-old neighbor, taking my mother to visit my aunt or sharing the bike path with a squirrel, sparrows, and a red tail hawk.

Dr Wayne Dyer was right “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

What are you looking at now?

Gin

Recent Thoughts

I believe my last post was after my half marathon, it’s not that I haven’t been running or participating in races. I really have no explanation other than I’ve not been writing – I’ve composed a bunch of blogs in my head while running but they never made it to the computer.

After my half-marathon in October I continued to train and ran four more races two virtual runs and two local races the last being a new favorite the Jingle Bell 5k in down town Providence. The fact that I’m still running at the end of December in Rhode Island is a bit of a Christmas miracle.  Prior to this year I was a fair weather runner, running only when the temps where 55 degrees and above, along with clean dry streets and side walks (I have an issue about getting my shoes dirty). My entire mindset has changed toward running, before training for the half it was just another aspect of conditioning – Now it’s a necessary part of my life. I’m running in the cold, on wet sandy sidewalks! As long as the temps are above 25 with little or no wind and clear side walks and streets I’m running.

I’m not sure when the transition occured? Going from someone who ocassionaly ran into someone who “runs/slogs” .  I do know it was during my long runs when I found a sense of freedom, peace, serentity that I’ve never found anywhere else – Not sitting in meditation, not in yoga not even in martial arts and especially not sitting in church. Believe me noone is more suprised by this revelation than me!

My best guess is that running provides me with what I’ve always known about myself that in order for me to be truly at peace I need to be engaged mentally spiritually and physically. Which is why just sitting in meditation or in church does’nt fill my soul. Martial arts and yoga require paying attention to movements too mental. Running requires putting one foot in front of the other nothing more. It’s the perfect balance of physical and mental creating a wonderful spiritual experience. It has changed me and the way I view life. I’m more in tunned with my body, (in the best shape of my life). I handle stress better, sleep better, eat more mindfuly and it has made me appreciate nature and where I live. What a gift!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Gin