Sunday, August 3, 2014

Running- Beyond the Gadget Stage

                I have come to the point in my training where I have everything I need gear-wise. I have my summer shorts that easily pair off with one of my race shirts for when it's warm, I have a slew of expensive running socks that work well to prevent blisters. I have half a dozen Sweaty Bands that look amazing on my head. For winter, I have my favorites too, all the way down to the warm hat and ipod-friendly gloves. Therefore, except for the occasional shoe replacement and weekly GU's and s-caps for my long runs, I am pretty much all set. I liken this stage to getting past the 'honeymoon' stage in any endeavor, from house buying, marriage, having a baby, buying a new fancy car and on and on. Now is when the real running begins. Now it's when I get to appreciate running for running's sake and not for the cool things I can get as a runner. 
                  A few weeks back we dug out a slightly deflated basketball from one of our toy boxes and we decided to take it to the park. From that day on my daughter, who is 7, has become close to obsessed with shooting hoops. But being a shop-a-holic that she is, she immediately goes online and looks up basketball sneakers, and basketball shorts, etc.... She starts driving me and my hubby crazy about buying her the "proper" attire for the sport. Hubby and I try in vain to convince her that no such gear is needed to shoot hoops, and ESPECIALLY at her age, but no, she had her mind set. The parallel here is an obvious one. I too, at the very beginning of my running journey, have felt that I could not possibly be a "real" runner without all the gear. My husband, who has been running for much, much longer than me has always found it sort of silly that I was spending so much money to, in essence, become a runner. "You don't need all that, I've been running for 25 years without a tech shirt", he'd remind me daily, in a lighthearted tone. But I needed to do it and I did and now I am on the other side of this buying frenzy with nothing else to squeeze from this obsession, but plain ol' running and nothing more. Now is when my relationship with running actually begins. 
                    As a practicing Buddhist I work on myself daily to find value in the present moment and in our common daily tasks. Thich Nhat Hanh explained in his book The Miracles of Mindfulness: 

             “To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them…I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands.  I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living.  That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle.”

                Running is just now taking on its proper place in my life, away from all the inner celebratory fanfare experienced as a new runner it will take on its place as a 'common daily task'. Focusing on getting the proper attire for the sport is not at all a bad thing, that is not where I am going with this. But I do feel that we may lose or never fully gain a full appreciation for the sheer joys of running if we never step down from the 'honeymoon', gear buying stage of running. Now that my 'honeymoon' stage with gear-buying is over I can begin to fully focus all my energy on finding joy in learning more about my body, my breathing. I wake up daily now looking for wind on my face, and trying the catch that moment between mile 2 and 3 where I actually feel sheer joy, gratitude and humbleness at being able to run, nothing more.