Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ZEN RUNNING


For years, I had this need for speed when it came to running. At the beginning of my running years, I didn't know anything different but to go out, run hard, be done. The faster I got, the faster I wanted to be. I wanted to be like those other women you read about in Runners World or those who were on the front line of all the races. They were my heroines. I was exhilirated.

I managed to do pretty well, climbing up from the bottom in my age group to age group winner for many years. I was exhausted.

The inevitable happened then, the injury cycle that took years to be broken, because of course I wanted to maintain my speed and my reputation. I didn't realize that by taking time off it might be better for me in the long run. You took time off, you got slow. Everyone knew that. So I continued on this course for several years, going through one injury after another. I was frustrated.

After a while, I got slower, and slower, and slower, still injured in one form or another, but still hell bent on working through it, not able to face the fact that something had to change. I was in denial.

Family troubles, deaths, and tragedies helped further me along on my downward spiral, going through years of sadness and overwhelming grief. When I ran, my heart and legs were equally heavy. I didn't want to run but did because it was something I always did. I was depressed.

Fast forward to the last 3 months. Up until then, I still held some glimmer of hope that I would one day run like a gazelle again, if only--if only I could actually run fast. I tried, God knows how I tried. But those days are gone. I finally decided to embrace a new attitude about my running and triathlon. I was going to focus on what I could do and not what I couldn't do but thought I should.

And the result is that I have finally reached that state of nirvana I had so many years ago when I was running fast, placing in my age group, bringing home the medals and trophies. And what am I doing differently? Running to run, not to race. Running to enjoy the day, regardless of what the weather is. Running with a distant goal of course, but knowing that this run isn't the one that will get me to the finish line but many more like this and then some are still needed. Each run, each footstep, is getting me closer to a far off goal, with the bonus of having reached a Zen-like state now, where I am running relaxed and focused. Speed? Did you hear me say anything about fast? No. I'm not. I don't even care that I'm not. What I care about is how good I feel each and every time I go out and run, knowing I can log another run on the way to my future goal. And that I know is what its really all about. I am happy.

I had truly forgotten how good it felt to just run, to float along, to take that needed breath waiting for a car to pass and then continuing on, barely missing a beat. Or that no matter how badly I needed to get to the bathroom, I could continue on and stay focused until I got home, instead of going into a panic and worsening the situation.

Honestly, I never thought this day would come, where I could run 45 min., an hour, two and feel good the whole time. I hope whatever your goals are that you get to the state of Zen at some time in your running career.

9 comments:

Marlene said...

Great post with some excellent advice. I often find myself caught up in trying to be faster and faster... this is a great reminder to stop and smell the roses. Thank you.

Just_because_today said...

This is a great post. Inspiring, love it!!!
Enoy what we have today not what we could have had or what we had before. Great advice

Shannon said...

What a great post and reminder that the fact that we have two legs and CAN run we should enjoy the pleasure of having that privilege. :)

ShirleyPerly said...

Being a long time runner/jogger but not someone who started entered races until relatively recently, I find all the focus on getting faster to be quite tiresome, actually. Most of the time, I actually love just being out there, whether slow or fast. This year is different working with a coach but he's helped me get rid of some nagging injuries which has helped bring a lot more fun back into my running.

I'm glad you have found the enjoyment again!

I Run for Fun said...

I love this post...and the term zen running.

I can totally relate to this. I am still at a point where I enjoy speed, but I do often enjoy running just for the sake of running. Running without a Garmin or a even a watch. Running just to enjoy the feeling of running, the footfalls, the breath, the heartbeat.

Anne said...

It took me quite a while to reach a Zen state, and once I got there, I injured myself again. Ommmmmmmmm...

IronBob said...

Great post.
I am blessed. I started running at 35 and was slow even in my prime, so I never pushed it. As I got slower with age, I just accepted it. Now the goal is to get to the starting line and finish line of at least one IM per year. God willing the body will hold up for a few more years on this goal.
My motto: Take it easy and dont forget to enjoy and embrace the day.
Keep up the great attitude

Sunshine said...

Inspiring! Thanks for your good words. Keep enjoying.

Calyx Meredith said...

What a fantastic post! So glad you are where you are and so glad you shared.