Monday, January 13, 2014

The Ceremony of Running

Sometimes all we need is to find a little magic in the universe.  Magic.  It can come to us in many forms, any and all forms; human form, e-form, expected and unexpected, big and small.  But always amazing and usually for me, just what I need in any particular moment.

Not too long ago, I read this facebook status from one of my favourite authors, Richard Wagamese:

"I am drawn to ceremony like Earth is drawn in its circle around the sun. To begin a day's journey without a smudge, a prayer and meditation is to lack a center. I'm not a holy man or a great ceremonialist. I only know that ceremony is the magnet that draws me closer to Creator, to the Grandmothers, to my essential and truest self. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Breathing is a ceremony when it's mindful. So is walking. So is looking at something that moves me. So is talking when the talk is real and earnest. When I inhabit something fully, when I am mindful, when it increases me, I am in ceremony - and there is joy in the recognition of myself..."

And it struck me.  Running is ceremony for me, important because, as he so eloquently states here, it is THE magnet that draws me closer to my truest self.  It is these moments on any given day when I am on the pavement accompanied by the repetitive rhythm of my footsteps, the  steady, strong beat of my heart and the sound of my breath that I am most at home and at peace within my soul, simply because I am all there.  All right there in that footstep in that moment of time. 

Running, for me, started as exercise.

Running shifted, for me, to moving meditation.

And now.  Running as ceremony. 

I like it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Running Naked

Today, I went running.  Naked.

Not naked without clothes naked.  My currently geography is Edmonton and while -4C with windchill is certainly a welcoming treat  from -30c with windchill, No clothes naked would perhaps mean frost bite in some fairly interesting areas.  Plus, I'm kind of shy.

What I mean by running naked is that I went stripped down, bare bones, lets get real running.

This was the first time I've been running in 14 days.  It feels like the first time I've been running for months.  Maybe ever years.  I didn't over think it.  I committed to being a running virgin and dove right in.   It wasn't about any particular training run in any particular training plan to meet any particular running goal.  It wasn't to work any shit out in my head or in my heart.  It wasn't about finding the exact right winter running costume for this exact winter running temperature on this exact winter running day.  I just went because I was told I was able to go, and well, quite frankly, this is what I do when I'm done work for the day- I go running.

I was out for 25 minutes.  5 minutes longer than I was "allowed to be running" and one hour and 35 minutes short of an average Wednesday add some mileage run.  I had a thought for a moment about how this was frustrating, depressing and pathetic.  And then I remembered.  If this was how I was going to see the run and my current situation, then this was surely how it was going to be.  And so I chose.  I chose to see those 25 minutes of running like I've never seen running before.  I paid attention to my breathing.  I acknowledged that my chest felt uncomfortable and then I just let it go.  Its not good or bad, right or wrong.  I am where I am and my body is where it is and I have this incredible opportunity to start running all over again.  For the first time.  Naked.  Because when I strip it all down (forget the expensive running watch) and peel back the layers (forget the training plan, the pace and the distance) the opportunity that is before me is indeed a gift.  I have the opportunity to create the whole training path from start to finish.  The only thing possibly holding me back are my thoughts about what running was like.  What it has been.  Or what it possibly should be.

And my goals?  Just to be clear...they're still there.  I'm still after them.  And I will get them.  2014.  Its even and these will be mine.  A sub 3 marathon and a consistent 1:25 half.