Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Run Fearless and happy.

  When I started to run a couple of years ago I came to it with a desire to free myself.  To set down the long carried baggage on the curb and leave it behind. It started out well considering that my body was recovering from smoking and I didn't have an endurance base that would challenge me to consider my shoe choices so the two or so miles I could run at a time was enough.

In my quest for self betterment I realized that my need for running was pushing past what my body could take while wearing typical shoe coffin marshmallow fluffy huge running shoes.  I couldn't get past 15 or so miles per week and my heart and mind needed more.

So I ditched the shoes (which in and of itself took bravery and soul searching) and I found a joy in running that I had never known before.  First off I could see improvements that were measurable and I could see the miles building up.  Even better I was doing it injury free. To put the icing on the cake I have and often still do set down those heavy loads I carry on my shoulders and straighten my spine, hold my head high, and run free.

  I notice things now.  I notice the seasons pass in a detailed and profound way. I notice the temperature.  I notice how my body reacts and interacts with that which is around me.  I notice my breathe and my feet touching the earth.  I started by paying attention to my feet and the sensations that came with running barefoot in the beginning.  Then it spread up my body and then out.

It makes me happy to run.  It relaxes me and calms my spirit. I love when I get better and faster and can run for more miles but over the last couple of weeks it has been done when I just went out there because I felt like running and greatness came along for the ride!

Other people are getting that too.  If you haven't read Born to Run yet, you should.  Its an excellent read regardless of your foot wear choices.  Its for runners.
Here is a blog post that also gets in touch with things other than gear and times and expectations we put on ourselves.
This is fantastic list that I copied from the above blog link.

Top ten ways to become a better runner and a better person. Simultaneously.

1.  Get naked. Big, padded, expensive running shoes often cause more problems than they solve.  We run best when we let our bodies operate in as natural a condition as possible.  It’s all too often that we let our remedies become our maladies.  Starting from a more natural, authentic place is usually the best way to go, in your exercise routine, love life, or spiritual pursuits.

2.  Have fun. The Tarahumara, a tribe of legendary ultramarathoners, smile huge during the hardest parts of the race. We all do our best when we’re having fun. Notice and nurture what you enjoy, and pour a little whimsy into the hardest parts of your day.

3.  Get devotional: The Hopi and Navajo do ritual running as a prayer to give their own strength to those in need. What greatness could you achieve if you were devoting yourself to something greater, if you weren’t doing it all for your own ego?

4.  Get compassionate: While marathoners are often cutthroat, ultramarathoners, who run four times that distance, are shockingly generous, often helping eachother along the way. We seem to actually perform better when we’re cooperatively, not combatively, competitive. Compassion is far better fuel than greed.

5.  Get egalitarian:  While men trounce us ladies in sprints, longer distances completely equalize this difference. Aging also impacts distance running far less than it does most other sports. According to the theory that we evolved in running packs, it was important that women and elders kept up with the group on a hunt. Elders were given particular respect since they had the know-how to track animals, something that takes the better part of a lifetime to master. We post-moderns cherish the ideal of equality and respect for all — isn’t it stunning to consider that this respect might be an ancient birthright, that even helped us survive as a species?

6.  Speak your mind: Communication was essential between members of the hunting pack to ensure they were tracking the right animal. Our ability to relate to each other is nothing without our willingness to communicate. What can you contribute to your tribe by speaking up?

7.  Get imaginative:  There comes a point in tracking an animal, McDougall claims, where following isn’t enough, and you must begin anticipating its next move. This need for anticipation might well have led to our greatest gift of all, imagination. Our ability to look across a plain and envision a city, our ability to listen to silence and hear poetry, is what makes us quintessentially human. This capacity drives all creativity, and propels us into an ever more complex future. Celebrate your imagination, and use it wisely.

8. Get free: It’s awfully hard to run long distances weighted down by physical possessions — or emotional baggage, for that matter. Running light is the way to go, for your finish time and your soul.

9.  Get Zen: Jenn Shelton, one of Born to Run’s most colorful characters, explains why she started running ultramarathons:
I thought, man, if you could run 100 miles, you’d be in this Zen state. You’d be the f@#king Buddha. Bringing peace and a smile to the world. In my case, it didn’t work.  I’m the same old punk ass as ever. But there’s always this hope that it’ll turn you into the person you want to be. You know, like a better, more peaceful person. And when I’m out on a long run, the only thing in life that matters is finishing the run. For once, my brain isn’t going ‘bleh bleh bleh bleh.’ Everything just quiets down, and the only thing going on is pure flow.
I’ve found a certain clarity during runs when I can get myself to stop resisting the pain and just be. It’s raw and real and just as meditative as anything I’ve experienced in a zendo [meditation hall].

10.  Get fearless: We’ve developped a strange phobia about running over the last few decades that McDougall finds preposterous. Running, he claims, “gets the machine operating the way it should be. End the baloney, the hysteria about running, that it’s dangerous — ‘Don’t do too much! Don’t take your shoes off!’ — Regain the use of your legs, get the engine off the block and running how it should be, and your whole bodymind will run more smoothly.” 
I don’t kow about you, but I make my biggest mistakes when I let fear paralyze or hypnotize me, and I’m at my best when I’m living courageously, heart at full throttle.

Go check out MissZippy's latest post!! Seems as though the self examination bug is going around!


Anonymous said...

I remember that Jenn Shelton quote. Thought it was an interesting thought!

The Boring Runner said...

Great post! I'd like to think that I specialize in #2. Life is too short to be grouchy.

Off the Bike said...

Really great post to wake up to as I am about to head out the door. Love the vibe.

misszippy said...

This post is the best, Angie! I love Jenn Shelton's quote, and I love the idea of being egalitarian through running. And finally, I LOVE what you have to say about it all!

Thanks for the shout out.

Berryfine said...

Love this post so much I put it under my favorites tab on my own blog :)

KovasP said...

10 things I can and will definitely work on!

Anonymous said...

awesome things to think about, esp. the part about compassion. i love when cable tv puts on the 1 hr specials about ultra marathons and profiles runners and their training, family, races, etc. so inspiring!

AshleyR said...

Definitely have done some reflecting this week too. My 19 miles on Sunday gave me a lot of time to get the gears turning and it has continued throughout the week.

Marlene said...

Another excellent post. You always get me thinking!

How do you run barefoot in the winter??

funderson said...

so true! I was waffling just last night about sharing or not sharing my latest ADVENTURE! on the blog...this just may push me over the edge. I mean, everybody's doing it... :)

Stephanie said...

Loved BORN TO RUN - I give it to every runner I know!

I love it when running transcends "exercise". I don't get to that place on every run, but it's a good goal.

Andrew Opala said...

great set of tenets! definitely going to bookmark this

Genesis said...

i loved Born To Run and cant wait to get my copy back when my bff is done reading it. jen was pretty insane in the book. i think it would be a dream come true for me to meet all the people mentioned in the book. id be in runners heaven

Nicole on the run said...

I love running too, but I'm afraid to go barefoot! I'm worried I'll get hurt, and won't be able to run at all.

shel said...

nice post! in my northcoast taper mode, i finally had a morning yesterday where i had no plan and nothing specific to do. so i walk out of the door with no phone, no water, no music, no garmin. a headlamp to light the pitch and go... it was the best feeling, physically and emotionally, run that i have had in months. racing has always given me motivation to continue - i like results. i like the training that builds to a peak and then falls away again, like a rolling trail. but for the first time, i said with absolute certainty, if i couldn't race anymore would running for fun be enough? and the answer was an emphatic YES.

Junk Miler said...

That was like an injection of Red Bull right in the running vein. You and MissZippy both.

Anne said...

I just finished reading Born to Run this morning and I LOVED it! So much of this book rang true to me.

Thanks for this post Angie.

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Love this post! You have too many links I want to click!

I know you already read my race schedule. I am so excited about every race EXCEPT one. The marathon (or half). why? It's on the road. It's about beating my second place finish. And it's just NOT about who I am as a runner now. I know if Hubbs wants to do the half I'll do it with him but if not...I have 3 trail races that I just can not wait for! (Can I actually say it out loud amoungst all these wanna be marathoners? I really think I am over road marathoning! I am all about ultra trail running!!! It is a completely different experince and experinces are what I am about.)

kat said...

Brilliant write, gave me a lot to think about and the fact that I need to take that book BORN TO RUN off the shelf and read it!

zbsports said...

Good post, I was so entertained and informed by your post. Thanks for sharing good thoughts.

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