Sunday, April 27, 2008

There is always another run

My life has been more stressful than usual these last few weeks. The classes I am taking this quarter are more time consuming than previous classes, and work is as hectic as ever. I have to be very organized so that I can also spend time with my family. And of course, there is running.

The Seattle Times had a well-timed article this week, "Stressed out workers skip gym...", which reminded me that it is exactly in times like this when I must keep running. It is tempting to skip my early morning run when there is so much more to do. Sometimes it seems selfish to go out for a run when I haven't spent quality time with Eric in a given day. But truth be told, Eric almost pushes me out the door in the morning. We have found that my running is an investment in our relationship.

The article mentions something that I completely agree with. In times of stress, sometimes you need to feel that there is something that you can control. As my day progresses, and every-day annoyances and problems pile up weighing down my shoulders more and more, I envision myself floating down the trail the next day. In the solitude of the sleeping neighborhood, with the company of the birds and squirrels, a comforting thought emerges, no matter what happens today, there is always the next morning run.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Why we run

I have been reading excerpts of an excelent running book: Lore of running, by Tim Noakes.

Yesterday night, I read the introduction. It beautifully described the reasons why the author loves running. I was amazed at how well and clearly he expressed what I feel about the sport. Up until now, I have had a hard time describing it to people who don't run. So here it goes, adapted from Tim Noakes.

1. Self-discovery. Running provies complete solitude, which allows us to draw back into ourselves, "into those secluded parts of our souls that we discover only under times of duress and from which we emerge with a clearer perspective of the people we truly are."

2. Awareness of our body. Running makes us aware of our physical bodies, and our responsability to take care of them. We learn to admire the incredible, almost perfect machine that our bodies are. We also learn not to take our body for granted.

3. Confidence. Successful completion of running challenges teaches us that with hard work and self-discipline, we can reach our goals in life, whatever they may be. I personally think that children can benefit from running programs, because running in many ways is a metaphore of our struggles in life.

4. Self-criticism and self-expectation. It is never possible to reach one's absolute best. Once you reach one peak, there is always a higher peak. In my view, this is one of the distinguishing characteristics of what makes us human.

5. Humility. Running makes us realize our limitations and accept them with pride, without envy of those who have the physical (intelectual, or any other) gifts that we lack.

6. Failure leads to growth. To achieve success in running, or in any other activity, we must be afraid of failure. It is this fear that balances our self-confidence, and prevents us from becoming arrogant. If we do fail (and we will), we still win: we grow.

7. Honesty. There is no luck in running. The effort you put into your training shows on race day. Just like most things in life: you can't fake it. And there is no one to blame but ourselves if things don't go the way we expected them to.

8. Life is a competition with oneself. This is one of my favorite things about running. I don't race against others, I race against myself. I race against that little voice in my head telling me to stop. I race against my self-doubts, and against any other obstacles, be them self-imposed, or external.

9.Relaxation and creativity. Running is playing, and when we play, our minds open up to creative thinking. Sometimes I am amazed at the intricate stories and ideas I come up with during my long runs. I also find that after a run, I am at ease and relaxed. Running is my reset button.

10. Spirituality. Running teaches us about what makes us uniquely human: our desire to keep moving forward, regardless of the obstacles and problems that life puts on our way.