Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Running lessons: Letting go

Peace Park in the rain
I realized this week that I haven't blogged about running much lately. It's not that I haven't been running. In fact, I've been running lots - 3 or 4 times a week for a total of 30 to 40 kms most weeks. It's just that, for the first time in a while, running has taken a back seat to other activities - moving, traveling, and motorcycling, in particular. Added to which, I don't have any big races on the calendar this fall so my training has been far less rigorous than usual.

My inner control freak isn't entirely happy with taking such a relaxed approach to running but common sense tells me a few months of less intense workouts is exactly what my body needs right now - especially while I'm working on my chi running form. I've made good progress in recent months but still find some elements of the technique challenging. For example, I struggle with letting my arms and hips relax so that my body can rotate more naturally - which was the thing I decided to focus on during my 14k long run this past weekend.

It shouldn't be difficult to relax tight shoulder, neck and arm muscles. After all, they hurt when I hold them too tightly. But, for whatever reason, it is hard. Really hard some days. And Saturday was definitely one of those days.

Hiding from the rain

Of course, it didn't help that I was slogging through heavy rain for much of the run or that work has been more stressful than usual in recent weeks, but I genuinely thought I could release the tension within a few kilometres if I simply focussed on my form and "let go".


It turns out letting go of the tension in my shoulders is a lot like letting go of negative stuff  in the rest of my life. It doesn't happen just because I want it to. It takes practice, patience and commitment, and if  I haven't dealt with the underlying issues that caused the problem in the first place, it takes a lot longer than I expected.

It's odd that it can be so hard to let go of the negative stuff sometimes. After all, hanging on to it doesn't do much besides make me unhappy and uncomfortable. Nonetheless, far too often I find my thoughts consumed with resentment, disappointment, anger and fear.

My meditation instructor tells me it's my ego at work - that it fills my head with whatever it needs to in order to keep me from listening to the peaceful and profoundly secure soul at the centre of my being.  Meditation, she says, is one of the best ways to reconnect with that essential part of myself and let it guide me to a more joyful, creative, productive, peaceful and loving life.

I'd like to believe that's possible so - just as I do when I am trying to improve my running technique - I practice letting go, notice what's happening in my head and heart, strive to learn new ways of being in world, and focus on positive things - like love, gratitude, forgiveness, and the beauty around me.

Over the next few months, I'll keep you posted on how things go - with my running and with my quest to "let go".

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