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.
I’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
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…
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?
This is a word that’s been in the forefront of my thoughts for a while now… Why does it seem more difficult for people to commit more now than ever?
Commitment is an issue we deal with every day in almost every aspect of our lives. Relationships are built upon it, showing up for work, school, the gym a run, paying your mortgage… Endless!
Maybe it’s the fact that we have too many commitments — We have so many more choices now than we ever did and with choice comes commitment. Being overcommitted is a sure way to lose focus on some of our bigger ones. For example how many marriages or relationships are taken for granted while attending to the work, social, and financial commitments. How many of us quit on ourselves? Diets ended because it was easier to grab fast food on the way to pick up a child from soccer practice or the dog from the groomer? Who’s joined a gym in January and hasn’t been there since February because “life” just got too hectic? Does your day planner or google calendar look more complicated than the plans for D Day?
Believe me I don’t have the magical cure and some of what I’ve written I can’t totally relate to, being single and sixty-one I have different complications — Such as elderly parents, and a business to run. We all have our “busy” but what I’ve come to realize the “hard” way is by avoiding the number one commitment “OURSELVES” we’re never going to be any good at keeping the others.
Believe me if you are sick of being unhappy or unfulfilled and you are just going through the motions of the other commitments. Everyone knows it sometime before you realize it. So before you start looking to change where you live, your hair style enhance your mood with food, drugs or alcohol. Sit quietly for a minute and think about what is it you need? What are you passionate about? What drives you?
For me I love people, I enjoy teaching and helping people but it starts with me… My routine for keeping me at my best goes like this; I commit to daily meditation and a few lines of spiritual reading, routine exercise and I block off Sunday mornings as nonnegotiable time I run for at least one hour. There is also my martial art training. Again my situation is different, but can’t you get up 10minutes earlier tomorrow to sit quietly or however you’d like to feed your spirit?
Believe me commitments are always going to be there, so why not embrace the most important one your mental, physical and spiritual health! Because if you don’t you’ll never be able to commit fully to anything or anyone else…
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?
The Road Less Taken by Robert Frost is my favorite poem – In some ways it’s the most apt description of my life. That very thought occurred to me after I decided to take a right turn after my usual left turn during today’s run.
That small adjustment in my normal route brought me to a small section of bike path that runs parallel to my usual route but you’d never know it. My usual route is on a busy state road which leads me to a lovely neighborhood run but affords none of the natural beauty and serenity of the bike path. This small adjustment also added more milage which in this case was a good thing.
That simple change in routine made my run more enjoyable, and a little more challenging. I often hear people complain of being in a rut, but who created that rut? No-one has to do the something the same way every time do they? Isn’t that the definition of insanity? What about always basing a choice on how others feel? (I’m not saying this is wrong, but it isn’t right if you’re only doing it for that reason).
Back to the road less taken — I haven’t lead a conventional life, never married, no kids, left a nursing career to pursue owning a martial arts school. At sixty one I’m running road races and writing blogs, choosing unconventional paths isn’t easy. People look at you differently they question your choices. Some may admire you, but others may ridicule you — I get it. People are afraid of being different of being the odd man out. We find a certain comfort in conformity. Believe me I’m not totally off the rails, I like structure, but it’s done my way!
There are times I wonder the what ifs of the more conventional road, but rarely. I believe the choices I’ve made have not only made me the person I am but have effected all the students I’ve taught and all the people I’ve met. No regrets…
I’ve taken the road less traveled and it’s made all the difference!
Try taking a right after your first left and see where it takes you!
This past week has been trying. I was in an accident on my way to work (rear-ended by a distracted driver in bumper to bumper traffic). I didn’t exactly have the most cooperative insurance agent (in her defense I was a bit shaken up). Then there are the all too many sad posts on Facebook from former colleagues and friends who are suffering major losses.
To top it all off, the accident agrivated some old issues from a previous accident — Nothing major just stiffness and soreness that limited my normal training regime. Admittedly I was very concerned about the future of my running. Sixty-one isn’t exactlly spring chicken teritory , so I iced and took ibuprophen as directed along with light stretching. The reduced activity gave me time to take invintory not on what happened but what I have and for that I am greatful.
Life can turn on a dime — You can be stopped in traffic and be jarred into a nasty reality, or you can be talking with someone in the morning and hear they passed that evening. There can be this little bump somwhere and the next thing you know you’re in an oncologists office discussing options. Which is why we need to be in the present, not griping about what’s passed or focused on a future event or wish that hasn’t happend. We need to practice gratitude and share what we have — Not gifts, but our gifts.
Give empathy along with or instead of sympathy, lend a hand rather than give a handout, listen rather than preach, be present and appreciate all these moments, don’t wallow in regrets, most importantly Be Kind…
By the way I ran yesterday eight miles, they weren’t easy and it wasn’t pretty but I was running with a greatful heart, because I was running…