Sunday, May 27, 2012

An Emerging Natural Act

     “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

..... It's profoundly good advice. However, when it comes to matters of self-coaching and running, I can be a bad student.

     I am struggling. I have run more this month than I have in many months. That is good. I have lost 12 pounds over the past three weeks. A good start. It's just that ... I am not feeling like what I am doing remotely resembles ... a natural act. When I run, as I just completed doing over the past hour, I feel awkward. Perhaps the beautiful, sun-drenched Boston weather in the 70's F contributes to this awkwardness. As I run around my local reservoir, I feel my neurotic self-awareness heightened by onlooking critical eyes wryly watching me stride past them in the opposite direction resembling a shuffling, out-of-place Hulk of gammaflab attempting to leap across the stage of Swan Lake.

     Others running in my direction pass me. I can rationalize this repeated act of perceived dominance over me as not bothersome. I know that today, for instance, I ran 5.3 miles in 63:05. Unlike most of my runs of late, I did not run/walk the distance. However, I did use my heart rate monitor, and I ran as slowly as I had to to keep my heart rate around my target rate of 134 BPM. Over the last two miles, I allowed for cardiac drift in the warm weather, allowing the heart rate to climb to 140 BPM - but no higher. The first mile or so felt very pedestrian. My proud Clydesdale's trot dissolved with every passing mile, however, into an increasingly painstaking crawl. One foot in front of the other. Muscles feeling like over-boiled shrimp without any crisp synapse capabilities. Just neuro-patterning strides restricted by an oversized haul in tow.

     However, it was a successful run. Running the trail at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir that I have run, some years much more than others, since 1973, it's calm beauty remains an urban oasis hiding us who circle it from the swelling industrialization lurking just around the next construction site.

I will always enjoy coming to this area, and I find it absurd to even fret about faster runners passing me by. It's just that that used to be me doing that here!

     "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old".

     So it's time to release the anchor of my ghostly fleet feet to spring forth with 'a new thing'. I love the honesty of running. One becomes as fit as one commits to the pursuit. If you run more, to a certain extent, you will get faster. I'd like to get faster. At least, faster than today. However, I need to get healthier, and I know that running is one key component, along with diet and stress management, that will take me to a healthier me. That's important, because I want to keep up with my six year old son for many years to come, and most critically, I do not want to get older. I will age, of course. None of us get out of here alive! My point is, I want to live for a long time, with as much vitality as I can joyfully muster, and I am not willing to settle for getting old. Maybe that is what Pete Townshend meant when he wrote, "I hope I die before I get old"? If that wasn't what he initially meant, I bet it is now!

     Therefore, I accept this awkwardness. We wait, in soreness, for muscles to recover from a workout with new, gained strength. Likewise, self-image is relative. It is worth looking and feeling a bit awkward now, because I have faith that the honesty of running will prevail, exactly to the extent that I commit to it. There have been too many days, even within this past month, where memories of how effortless running used to be restrained any fledgling enthusiasm for today's run to emerge. Just thinking about that day's run would suffocate it in a sea of excuse, dreading that baseline awkward feeling, that feeling of one's own body not even feeling like your own in motion, before I could even lace up my shoes. Excuses tempt me with empty guilt.

     Today. Clear the distractions. The past was never committed to memory in order to choke today. Memories are fun to spin at campfires and the like, but the past, for better and worse, does not equal the future. Do the 'new'! Forge a new path. Create a natural act.  What can you climb today?

     Don't look back.


  1. John, well done on watching your heart rate doing the run. As well great job at least being in touch with yourself to notice the subtleties of 'beginning again'. You and I are in the same boat more than you will ever know and believe we can be of great encouragement and support to each other as we 'climb back in the ring'. I am anticipating the same feelings that you had when I start back running this summer. Great insight as to your own depth and spirit as you recognize the thins that may or may not be comfortable, but that I'm sure you will build upon!

    Norm :-)

  2. Hey Norm!

    Thanks very much. I welcome your company, that's for sure! I must remember to enjoy the journey a bit more this time, though.

  3. I'm beginning to realize there's more valor in getting BACK into shape as there is getting into shape! Rock on!

    1. I think it was Derek Jeter who said it sure is a lot easier to stay in shape than to get back into shape. John, YOU ROCK!

  4. Well said. Onward and upward!

  5. Nice blog, John....I came upon it through Tony Reavis' blog.
    I am 60, have been running for 37 years and also remember my times from those days of the late 70's/early 80's road racing in the Boston Grand Prix. It's torture and pointless to compare ourselves with those other people we were. Try to do something everyday and it will become easy again. I rarely take a day off :-)