Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meditative benefits of the distance runner

                      As a distance runner I fully believe that my running is my meditation time and that this one external benefit is of exact equal importance to me as the physical benefits I get from running, not less....but AB.SO.LUTE.LY equal.  In addition, I believe that distance running has even much more powerful results than regular meditative practices might for it involves your whole body into physically learning how to work with, feel, see and then let go of all sorts of discomforts, through the use of your mind.

                      Let me explain, this past Saturday, I ran 23 miles and, being a somewhat slow(er) runner, I ran it in four and half hours. This is four and a half hours of working with your body, working with rising and falling discomforts, listening to your body on whether to slow down, drink, speed up, take it easy, eat, looking carefully each second as to not step on some hole, etc. It is safe to say that the WHOLE four and half hours was spent addressing and adjusting for minute-by-minute discomforts. Off the streets, this running practice has enormous implications for my personal life, but none more important than this one; the fact that nothing bothers me anymore. Let me rephrase that more clearly, of course things bother me, to some extent. I still feel discomfort, but I now I simply don't trust it's strength anymore. I don't fall apart when I feel threatened, I don't believe anymore in it's ability to unhinge me. In doubting the strength and validity of a perceived discomfort we make it less painful overall and we feel less a need to be defensive.

                       Coming from having been somewhat always super 'sensitive' and and easily hurt growing up, this change is very welcomed! Rewind time a few years and even a tinge of threat to the ME that I know would have gotten me unhinged completely. One wrong word from a loved one would have had me bed-bound in tears for hours, even days. A few years back, experiencing feelings of jealousy, hurt, annoyance, and frustration were experienced as simply unbearable. I totally believed in these hurt feelings and their ability to break me and it was no fun being me in this state, for I was constantly padding my proverbial walls so as to not get hurt. Too often, when met with discomfort (back then), I would feel the need to quickly ACT in order to alleviate and get rid of the thought discomforts as soon as possible. That is where my reactions were always less than nice. In social situations, this is typically when one deliberately acts to hurt others back for the perceived pain and discomfort they believe others inflict on them. One must conclude then, that when one ACTS on their 'lower level' feelings, such of jealousy, frustration, annoyance, it's not necesarily that this person is 'bad' or 'mean', but that they absolutely have no choice for they absolutely MUST act in order to get rid of the feelings of discomforts created by the perceived offence currently creating chaos in their life. This need to move the discomfort out of your body faster than it's meant to is what the Buddhists label as suffering. Emotional suffering is most often a perceived, but real-feeling pain that must be expelled from the body as soon as possible in the form of, unfortunately, hurting others back. Byron Katie, a author guru of mine, often says that "defensiveness is the first act of war".   She's reminding us that being defensive IS a choice we make and one we could very well do without.

                            But now, after over a year of running (or should we call it meditative running) anytime I feel pangs of any social discomforts, such as jealousy, annoyance, intimidation, frustration, I simply do what I do on hilly runs; go at it slow and steady and I don't trust it's power, I know it in my bones that it TOO will go away. Whatever I do or think, I certainly don't act on it, I simply keep on moving, and soon I'm on top and the discomfort has moved on. In life, as in running, all discomforts morph, change, move around and always dissipate, fade away into nothing. Therefore, I trust that all discomforts in real life, as in my runs,  morph, change, move around and fade away too, all I need to do is approach it slow and steadily and with this knowledge that it will not be there long, as long as I keep on moving and following my path.

Monday, August 26, 2013

23 Miles Saturday, 9 Sunday.....getting there, slowly but surely

                                      I needed to report about my run this weekend. As always, doubt sets in during the week about whether I would ever be able to do this and I wake up Saturday morning with a huge knot in my stomach. The words, 'Will I be able to do this?' keeps coming up in my head and I promptly shut it down. I had most things ready the night before and slipped out of my apartment at 5:10am. The whole city slept and only a few cars were seen on the dark streets of Connecticut Avenue heading north. It felt absolutely peaceful and looked beautiful watching the sun rise over the next 2 hours. I was listening to an audiobook for the first half of my run and it made the time pass by so fast. Before I knew it, it was 11 miles in and I was sailing. At one point I passed this farmer's fruit stand and bought one giant peach and ate it while running. It was just what I needed after the repeated artificial flavors in the GUs began to get old. My path took me downtown where the 50th Anniversary King Speech was being celebrated. People were beginning to gather and I took some pictures. My course had to be adjusted some due to the street closures but I kept it strong. I ran from DC to Maryland and back to DC and instead of 22 miles I did 23 miles. I had miscalculated the milage and with all the street closures I was still 2 miles form home when I hit 23 miles. I know I could have easily run that extra 2 miles but did not want to jeopardize 'the mission'. So I made change at a pharmacy and got on the bus, all sweaty and smelly. I think back know and surely I must have looked odd. But I sat there glowing, in complete bliss knowing I had just run 23 longest ever.
                                        In some 50K training schedules, like mine, a second long run is called for the next day. I had thought it was 8 miles, which is what it's been for the past few weeks, but this time it was 10!! I decided to run 9 seeing as I had run 23 and not 22 the day before, and that way the total milage would be true to the planned schedule. I was worried that the next day I'd be in total pain and run like an injured duck, but I was actually faster than my normal pace for this distance. I took on some hills pretty powerfully too and was flying on the second half of my run.
                                      I am not sure what made my healing process much faster. I think these long runs in a row allow your body to heal faster. I always take a LONG hot soak right after any long runs, and both my hubby (who is also a runner) and I swear by the long hot soak. I took a hot soak after both runs and I felt perfect in the evening. Not even sleepy, not lethargic, not weak the way I use to after a long run. So it occurred to me that yes, I must be getting stronger. I do drink tons of water all day long and always carry a bottle with me everywhere and I also drink about 30oz of self-made veggie/fruit juice daily, without fail. Anyway, I am a teacher and start school back up today and feel just fine. I have a few other things to share about my finding about the right shoe to share, but since it's time for me to get ready for work, it will have to wait. Have a great run! see you later.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shopping Dilemmas of a Runner

            I just bought a pair of compression shorts over a month ago to add to my already wide selection, and a second one maybe a few weeks before that. Mind you, these are shorts from places like Target, Marshall's, Sports Authority but still, I expected them to last a bit longer. Couple of long runs later, the area where my thighs meet has worn down to mere threads and both had to be thrown away. Been there, done that, as ruthless as it sounds to just toss away a pair of worn (but new) shorts, I cannot risk another long run where my wardrobe falls apart during the run and I get stranded miles from home with a painful, not to mention embarrassing, thigh chafing issue. 

              I realize as I write this that there is a whole portion of you who probably have had to never deal with the repercussions of their thighs being large enough that they can cause all sorts of painful rubbing issues while running, but it's a real issue for us curvier runners, one that cannot be ignored. 

                  Therefore, these days, I am on a serious lookout for the perfect, long-lasting, ultra-durable, compression shorts/capris that will last at least half a year's worth of long runs. So currently, I have my eyes set on the CW-X-Womens Length Stabilyx Tights. Read all reviews and all seems promising. What's the hold-up?
                     Only issues now are the cost and the sizing. The price ranges from $75 to $90 and the sizing chart is incredibly confusing (see below). I would not mind dishing out $75 dollars at another time of the year, but I have been doing a bit too much running-ware shopping lately and the guilt will not let me buy this one last luxury item. I am hoping by perhaps reading enough glowing Amazon reviews I will begin to think of it as 'absolutely needed' gear. Then there's a little issue with the fact that the BEST price is being offered by Amazon and after reading THIS article about Amazon's role in todays' world, I'm not so sure I want to support that right now; making the more expensive options the only option seeing as my conscience will not let me go with Amazon. In addition, I'm afraid to place an order seeing as my weight/height falls within one of the white squares on the chart (see chart below) and it's not clear which size I should get. I am neither within the colored areas or the grey areas. I even solicited my wise husband to help me figure out which size he though I should get; without revealing my true weight of course, but he too had trouble giving me a solid answer.  The last thing I want to get on my list is a mail-exchange to change sizes, they are a pain in general. But to a mom with 2 kids starting school next week, exchanging a mail-bought item is torture. 

               So there, a glimpse into a runner's everyday dilemma. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A fly-by view of my first ever 20 miler next week....

I found some pics of the Wissahickon Trail online and the place is GORGEOUS!!! These are pics I found via a search, I am not claiming them as mine.