Friday, August 1, 2008

Getting back to running

Since high school, a piece of my identity was wrapped up in running. From the very first time as a sophomore that I felt the satisfaction of being able to run a mile without wanting to die, through competing cross country, through my 20s and 30s, running felt like part of who I was. In some ways the running contributed to the Good. In high school certainly, it was the avenue through which I created a sense of independence and strength for myself, and through which I secured uninterrupted and unsupervised time away from my mother and with my friends, plumbing the depths of who I was... In combination with learning to write, running help build me into the person I was at that age.

Over time though, it seemed to become another way in which I pushed myself. By the time I was starting my 44th year, I decided to knock it off - just stop cold-turkey, quit running altogether. I ran only a couple of times after that -- one notable time out of sheer exhilaration the morning after Kenny's last regular Friday night Anusara class, completely powered by my joy at how much fun that was.

In combination with yoga, running was a funny thing. Everything I'd stretch in yoga, I'd subsequently contract when running. I found that I was progressing in neither arena, since I'd do this very careful doling out of energy. If I was going to a hard class, I'd do a short run. If I was doing a long run, I'd skip class. Ended up feeling pretty stuck.

Plus, the running was supporting a self-image that I was trying to relinquish -- a kind of hard-ness, toughness, that I felt wasn't serving me.

For better or ill, I gave it up completely. It's been interesting.

Actually, it's been really easy, but I have missed it.

So this morning when I started running, just 'cause I felt like it, it was really fun. The feeling came back to me -- how much I love it, how different it is, even when moving along exactly the same path in the woods, from walking, how much more my senses take in.

Now that I've had a chance to feel what it's like not to do it at all, to give up that push, I'm coming back to it, differently, without the push, just for the joy of it. Balancing it with yoga, I think, will be less challenging now that I've had a solid year and a half of yoga and have built my practice up to a different platform. We'll see what happens. It'll be different for me to not take a "training" mentality toward running, not to choose a goal or race and push toward it. That may come later, but for now, I'm just going to do a little every day and see if I can keep it all in balance.

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