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Inspired Running

Can running change your life?

A while back, I posted this comment on Facebook:

“It’s possible for you learn to love running.  In doing so you can learn to love your life.”

The comments were intense.

People pushed back.

There was a lot of resistance.

Some of it was legitimate. People shared health issues that prevented them from running. The gift of listening to their bodies.

Some of it was inspiring.  People shared stories of how they used to hate running, gave it another try and it changed their lives. Created major breakthroughs.

All of it was passionate.

It got me thinking.  If I said:

“It’s possible for you to love bowling, In doing so you can learn to love your life.”  

Would the reaction have been the same?

Or what about:

“It’s possible for you to love painting, In doing so you can learn to love your life.”  

How about:

“It’s possible for you to love exercise, In doing so you can learn to love your life.”  

I’m curious:

How do you react to each of these?  

Do these statements bring up different emotions?  

Why?

My hunch is that they aren’t all the same.  The truth is you have different experiences & thoughts about running, bowling, painting and exercise.

These experiences and thoughts create a different emotional response when someone says it’s possible for you to love it.

If someone says to me, it’s possible for me to love bowling and in doing so learn to love my life, the response I get is laughter.  I think it’s funny.  I have no resistance to bowling and no real desire to use it to change my life.

For painting, I feel a longing to know more.  A curiosity to explore and a little bit of doubt about my abilities.

For exercise, I feel neutral.  I get it.  I’m not opposed to the statement and I’m not excited about it.

So why so much resistance and passion around running?

My two cents:

  • You have experience running.  For many, including me, not all of this experience is good.  In gym class I was slow, so I tried to run faster and it hurt.  I felt like I wasn’t good enough, so I stopped trying.
  • There’s a lack training in pace. You haven’t learned to enjoy going slow enough that it doesn’t hurt.  You’re not in gym class anymore and nobody cares how fast you are running.  Trying to run too fast for your body is uncomfortable.
  • It’s hard to start small.  You want to go out and run 1 mile today. For years I couldn’t run a mile, so I started with a minute, or 10 seconds, and I kept at it.  Now I can run a mile.
  • Walking gets a bad rap.  I used to think if I took a walk break while running, it meant I was a slacker, I was cheating, I wasn’t doing it right.  That’s not true.  Walk breaks are what allow you to run further, faster and with less pain. When you’re starting, the more walk breaks the better.

Think back to your first experience running?  Was it good?  Bad?  Are your stories about running creating resistance now?

Are you willing to give it a try?  Why/Why not?

In my own experience, I didn’t always love running.  I hated it.  And like many things I used to hate, once I learned why I hated it, gave myself the opportunity to experience it without resistance, I learned to love it.  The things that brought me the most resistance now bring me great joy.

Can’t wait to hear what you have to say on this topic.  Add your comments and perspective in the comments section below.

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Running through it

I didn’t want to run today.  I was feeling down.  Sad.  Missing my husband.  The weather matched my mood.

Rainy, overcast, windy.

I had more than enough good excuses to stay inside and feel sorry for myself.

I didn’t. 

I grabbed my shoes and loaded my ipod with a new playlist.  I hit the road with permission to run as far or as short as my heart desired.  No attachment to pace.  The only goal was to get out of the house and away from my thoughts.  The intention to simply run with the purpose of clearing my head and enjoying the run.

As I put one foot in front of the other, over and over, something started to happen. I began to feel better, to smile, to enjoy the music. 

I started to feel strong. 

With each raindrop that hit my skin, I felt refreshed. 

Each time my feet hit the pavement I felt grounded. 

So I kept running and running and running.  I ran longer than I’ve run all year, faster than I normally run. It was the best run I’ve had in months. 

All because I gave myself permission to run even though I didn’t want to.  It was what my soul needed to remember what it felt like to be free.

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Hate running?

This is for all of you out there who hate running. I hear ya!  Been there, done that. For a long time actually.  Every now and then, I still find myself hanging out in that boat.  To be clear, I’m not interested in convincing you to love running. I have no idea what you should love.  You are the only expert on you.  Running isn’t for everyone.  I get it.

Before you throw in the towel for good, resigned to a life of slugging it out on the treadmill or elliptical  and hating every minute of it – ask yourself some honest questions. What specifically do you hate about running?  If you’re anything like me, I bet it has a lot less to do with running than it does with your thoughts about running.

Hear me out.

How many times have you gone for a run, only to get short of breathe within the first five minutes?

How many times have you gone for a run for the first time in ages, only to pay for it the next day?

What does any of that have to do with the physical act of running, the actual physical sensation of putting one foot in front of the other?  Biomechanically running is not much different from walking, yet I rarely hear anyone talk about how much they hate walking.

Check in. Ask yourself what you think about running that’s making it suck.

Maybe it’s:

-I’m so slow, I need to run faster.

-This is so hard.

-I’m so out of shape.

-I’ll never be good at this.

-Why can’t I run faster?

-I’m no good at this.

-Somethings wrong with me.

That’s just a sampling of my old thoughts about running.  Guess what? Not one of those thoughts made running easier.  Those thoughts caused me to run faster than my body was willing.  Those thoughts propelled me to run longer than my body was prepared for.  All of this created evidence that I was out of shape. Which only reinforced my original thoughts that running sucked.

What if you consciously changed your thoughts about running? What if you left for a run with the intention of running as slow as you possibly can (I promise if you do this, it will feel easier).  What if you chose to love yourself and give yourself credit even if you only ran for five minutes.  What if your running didn’t mean anything at all about how good you were? What if you simply chose to notice how good it feels to move your body, smell fresh air and be outside?

Give yourself a break.  Try running without beating yourself. See how you like running when you give yourself permission to suck at it and still be awesome. See how you like running then.

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What if it was easy?

What would it look like if you let it be easy?  All the time?  Not just on a short run, on a sunny day, when you’re well rested.  What if on every day, on every run you allowed it to be easy? Or what if you just never let it be hard? Is that even possible?

I had an especially difficult run this week.  It was just a normal, short jaunt through the neighborhood that happened to go south.  I was rushed for time, trying to run faster than my body wanted to run.  Focused on finishing.  Being somewhere else I needed to be.  It wasn’t fun.  It didn’t feel good.

I realized deep down I’m holding on to a belief that if it’s to easy, to often, I’ll be bored.  I want to be challenged.  To keep learning.  To grow.  Can I still do that if it’s not hard?  Is there some special number on the easy/hard scale I have hit for fulfillment?

What if it’s possible for it to be easy and still feel challenged? To allow growth even when it isn’t hard?  This is what it would like like for me:

  • I would stop keeping score.  I’d ditch the Garmin and eliminate my fixation with knowing exactly how fast I’m running at every second.  I’d work on increasing speed during speed runs and tempo runs.  The rest of the time, I’d let my body run at whatever pace it wants to run.
  • I’d allow enough time to enjoy the run, no matter how slow I felt like going.  I’d take the time to stretch when I was done.  I’d be honest with myself about how much time I needed and be willing to give myself a little extra just in case.
  • I’d take the time to explore new routes.  I’d let myself run down by the river more often.  Even if I have to drive to get there.  I’d make a commitment to find runs that inspire me.

I went to Target today and bought a $12 Timex so I could still track my progress (I’m not ready to go cold turkey).  This felt like a good compromise.  I went to the river and ran.  I had no place to be all day.  I only looked at my watch once or twice.  You know what – it felt kind of easy.  Most of all, it felt good.

I’d love to hear what it would look like for you if you let it be easy all the time.  In running and in life.  Feel free to share your comments.

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What Are You Wishing For?

It’s funny how when you run a lot, running a lot ain’t no big thing.  Back before I knew I was a runner, it seemed almost impossible to even think about running an entire mile without stopping.  Mile by mile, run by run. It’s no longer impossible.  

I was doing my short run around the neighborhood today. Its about two miles, a perfect run when you’re short on time or just ramping up for the season. It got me thinking about how I used think running was so hard. How this thinking it was so hard, stopped me from trying.  Stopped me from the making it easy.  

Once I got passed the one mile barrier, six miles became the next obstacle. I used to say to myself and out loud to anyone who would listen “I wish I could be one of those people who just loves to go run six miles.”  I would say it as if ‘those people’ were some kind of crazy people. Die hard. Someone different from me. Yet as I said it, I would unintentionally imagine me doing it. Loving it. I’d see the picture of me, running six miles.  Often in the rain.

“And that which you manifest is before you.” -The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

As I was thinking about which distances are easy or hard, I had a sudden flashback to all those years ago when I used to wonder about those people who loved running six miles. Why six? I have no idea. It was just random number at the time. Although the fact that 36 is my favorite number may have contributed. I could have easily picked people who love to run three miles, or seven. I picked six.  

I was hit with the realization that I now tell people my favorite distance to run is six miles.  It’s far enough that you have to pace yourself. You can’t go out to fast.  You have to be patient.  It’s not to long enough that you have to plan your day around it. Coincidence?  Maybe?  But ask yourself, what are you manifesting right now. Intentionally or unintentionally? What fears are leading you to you? 

“Resist the temptation to base today’s decisions upon today’s facts and circumstances, which are little more than what remains of yesterday’s decisions.  

Instead, base them upon the facts and circumstances as they will inevitably be once your dreams have already come true. Once you’re already deep in friends, laughter, health and harmony.  Once your dreams ‘ain’t no big thang’, honey” -Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe

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Uphill

Uphill
I hate hills. They say running up hills is good for you. It builds speed. And endurance.  Whips you into shape. They also say running down hills is worse for you.  Harder on your knees.  Who are these people? I’m not one for being whipped into anything.  I don’t run hills. In fact, I avoid them.  Entirely.  I’ll change my whole route just to make sure I don’t even see a hill. 
During my first marathon (Portland) I was so relieved when I finished the ‘big’ hill at mile 17, I started to sprint to the finish.   Never mind the fact I had another 9 miles to run. I was at the top of the hill. In hindsight this is an extremely poor race strategy. Note to self, the race isn’t over just because you made it to the top.
This year, I plan to avoid that mistake. I’m running one of the flattest marathon courses out there.  This is not an accident. A fellow runner once told me after he finished the Chicago Marathon that it was almost too flat. As if such a thing could exist. He went on to say it was so flat it was boring.  This is when I made up my mind I was going to run Chicago.  
Today was different. I can’t explain it. I decided to take a different route, even if it meant I had to run up a hill. I just wanted to mix it up.  Do something different.  I have a core route through my neighborhood. I can turn left go slight downhill, up a hill, then slight downhill or do the reverse with the hill broken up and a long downhill in the middle. I bet you can guess which route I normally run. Not today. Today I was going to run up that hill. Even if it meant I was going against the wind. I’m always telling my clients to find what feels downstream. Go with the flow. Stop fighting against yourself. Yet downstream today felt like heading straight into the wind up a damn hill.  
They tell you to lean into the hill. Small steps. Same effort. Don’t push harder, don’t let up.  Just take smaller steps.  Find a spot about 10 to 20 feet in front of you and run to that marker.  When you’re almost there, pick another spot just in front of you.  Every now and then, look out into the distance to remind yourself where you’re going. So that’s what I did. I made it to the top of the hill, 10 feet at a time.  
My reward was letting loose and sprinting down the hill. I didn’t care that my shoe was untied. I didn’t care that I passed my street. That my run was ‘over.’  The wind was at my back and I was going downhill with the sun shining on my face. Pink was blaring through my headphones:
“’I’ve done all I can think of. Chased down all my demons, I’ve seen you do the same. Oh, pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel Like you’re less than perfect you’re perfect in my eyes. 
It felt pretty perfect to lean into that downhill stride.  
Happy Running.


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