When I Run…
I’ve picked up my running practice. Two or three times a week I start the day by running through the forest, to the beach, a little alongside the beach, and then back through the forest again. Pure bliss.
This morning I hesitated. I felt a bit like I’d been hit by a bus due to last night’s dinner at a Mexican restaurant (fun, but heavy!), and waking up at 4:44 – after which I couldn’t go back to sleep anymore. Rain was forecasted as well, so my motivation was rather low. When I decided to go anyway, it was mainly because I hoped to get some inspiration for this blog post. Boy, did I get some.
What’s funny is that I hoped to find inspiration for a blog topic whilst running, but the act of running itself became the topic.
I realized my running practice has totally changed. Through the change of my practice I can track down changes in my life.
Everywhere I have lived, I have been running. It started as a Summer practice to substitute the ice skating (speed skating) competitions during Winter. These were forest runs. Then, when I moved to London, I had to adapt to running (and living) in a city. I mapped out tracks that would take me through one or more parks to get my doses of “nature”. More cities followed after that, so more parks to tread.
The runs would start with me being over excited, pushing my limits, and returning home exhausted. My perfectionism aided in pushing myself to do as many kilometers as possible in one hour. Eleven kilometers in 60 minutes became the standard. I had to stop running a few years ago because of returning pains in my ankle and knee.
When my friend Anne came over from Amsterdam, to spend a week of holiday with me, she asked if I could show her where to go for a run. I had a track in mind, but I had been walking it up to that point, because I thought my ankle and/or knee would hurt again. Anne being the “sporty spice” she is, though, she inspired me to give it a shot. We agreed that if I would start to feel any kind of pain, I would just return home – no push, no obligations.
I ended up finishing the whole track with Anne, and without an ounce of pain!
Okay, yes, when I woke up the next day I felt about every muscle in my body aching, but that was a healthy physical reaction. I have only been cycling and doing yoga for the past few years, so naturally my body had to readjust.
So, after Anne went back to Amsterdam, I continued running. My body is used to the practice again, but besides that, it’s not the same. Now, when I start running, I feel like a heavy train that requires a lot of fuel (motivation!) to get up to speed. I run with music from my iPod, but when I enter the forest I always press “pause”. As they say, “There is no WiFi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection”. And I always do. I listen to the sound of my own breathing, to the wind that blows in the trees, to the birds that occasionally signal my arrival, and to the many crickets in this one part at the end of my forest track.
One moment the touch of my feet with the earth – be it forest ground, pavement or sand – grounds me, the next moment it feels like I’m flying.
The biggest change I’ve been noticing is that I feel more energized by the end of my run, than I do at the beginning!
My conclusion: I took away all the “pushing” on my own performance, and now I can actually enjoy the run in the moment. With every breath my smile becomes bigger. Perhaps it looks silly to the people who cross my path, but I couldn’t care less. It’s like the cheeky line I gave to a friend of mine: “Inhale the good sh*t; exhale the bulls*t”.
It’s the kind of change that I see in other parts of my life as well. Not just the living in the NOW, but also being more relaxed with…me. Setting limits to meet my needs versus living limitless in what I’d like to achieve. With more happiness and gratitude as a result. Like I said: pure bliss.