Saturday, November 9, 2013

4 Things Running Has Taught Me

Here are four things running has taught me. There are hundreds....but here are 4. 

* Through running, I learned that my body is capable of so much more than I give it credit for. I think back at all the years I was mad at my body and even hated parts of my body for not 'doing' what I wanted it to do, for not looking a certain way, for not being a certain weight. Add in there all the times I tortured my body by depriving it of food, real food. Like the time I did the Master Cleaner for 8 days, or the time I lived off liquid soup. Seriously, who lives on lemonade for 8 days? no one! what's who. When I began to feel humbled by the power and energy I was able to generate after just a few short months of running I literally had to apologize to my body. Apologize for all the things I'd done to it, all the things I thought of it that did nothing BUT hurt it, and hurt me. 

* Running has taught me that thoughts and physical pain are very similar. For example, thoughts and pain can both be terrible liars. You can think and 100% believe that, "This is a bad thing" and your actions will undoubtedly follow. But running makes you more aware of the true nature of thoughts and you begin to understand just how flighty thoughts can be. Pain is the very similar that way. When I first began running I experienced plenty of discomfort that was at times, painful. You might think, "oh, I am hurt I need stop" and choose never to that action ever again. But the truth is that all that initial discomfort is totally normal and that if you take it slow it all fades away, sometimes even within the same run. When you first begin working out after not having done so in a while, the body is protests. It would rather sit, not walk, walk not run. Pass that stage though and the pain becomes a helpful indicator of what you may be doing wrong, this might be bad shoes, bad form, bad pace, etc. 

* Running has taught me that I love, love, love nature and the outdoors. Three days a week when I do my 5am runs I pass by this fancy gym on my loop back and all the treadmill folks are right up front by the glass, they are all facing the world as we pass by. The one thought that goes through my mind each and every time I pass is, "No amount of money would ever make me take this experience indoors." I am not at all against gyms.  I love the weight machines and hot tubs, and pools in those places. I am just against treadmills, for ME. Some runners, who surely felt like I do, coined it the Dreadmill. Being outdoors just makes me really connect with the colors and the smells, the feel that come with each season. Last week, when I ran in Rock Creek (I call it my Rock Creek, for I seldom see many people on the trails) I kept getting these 'gratitude surges', as I call them. I could not believe how lucky I was, the whole forest was just so beautiful and for those two short hours, all of it was for me. (I know that is  crazy thought, but once you know thoughts are not real, you can play around with them all you want. Back to my topic). Next, there is the "bad" weather. I love, love, love running in bad weather. The same way people may wish it NOT to rain, I look forward to mornings when I hear rain coming from the windows and snow....oh, that is a special treat. For that morning, in the rain or the snow I get to do something others might not. What an amazing treat to get on a weekday morning, to get to feel truly alive and it's absolutely free and right here in the neighborhood. So nature, it's quite a healer and spirit restorer I have found. 

* Running has taught me that making it all about ME DOES help the world. Have you ever read this quote?

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you feel alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman

I have finally learned to see how selfishly seeking my own happiness helps everyone around me. I use to worry about my kids needing me while I'd go for a run even thought they'd be safe at home with my hubby. Nevertheless, I started not running as much, then not at all all because I felt guilty (or at least THAT was the excuse I told myself). But even though running is essentially a selfish act, it makes you a much more sane person the OTHER 22-23 hours of the day. The added bonus to this is the realization that I don't need anyone else around me to be 'proud' of me or to really understand why I do what I do. Growing up I always actively sought approval from others, even as grown woman, I felt I needed loved ones to FIRST nod with approval in order for me to proceed, without guilt, on any new path. But running, with the power of a bulldozer, has come and toppled all these needs, guilt and worries with such force. The happiness factor far outweighs any threat of disapproval from anyone. 

I posted this on the Women's Running Network on Facebook and here are the responses I got:

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