Archive | May, 2013

Being unenecumbered

25 May

Woman-running-for-healthI am the kind of runner who has a lot of gear. I didn’t realize it until a friend was visiting me, but I have a lot of shoes. Like, 8 pairs. I work in a running store so I get a good discount, and I use all of my shoes so it’s not like I buy them just for fun, but I still have too many. And I have all the other stuff: fuel belts, various water bottles, a GPS watch, an ID bracelet, hats and gloves and headbands, and lots of apparel.

This winter and spring, I was training for a May marathon and developed tendonitis in my knee. I did my last 22-mile run on Good Friday, and I had to walk the last two miles because I was in a lot of pain. I knew then that it was the kind of pain that doesn’t go away in a few days. I started seeing physical therapists and a chiropractor and finally a doctor who told me that I wasn’t recruiting my glutes and quads enough, so my little muscles in my knee were doing all the work. Thus, the pain.

I’ve been doing PT exercises EVERY DAY since then and am getting stronger, but when I run it’s like learning to walk for the first time. Every step requires a concerted effort to use my big muscles and to run with proper form. I am constantly telling my butt muscle to “Recruit!” I haven’t run more than 6.2 miles since my last training run, and I’m moving a lot slower and more deliberately now than I ever have. Because everything is new and different and still a little bit painful, it takes a lot out of me to go even a few miles. My butt and my brain are tired when I’m done, so I’ve decided to make it as easy as possible and do away with all the gear.

I know that seems silly, but you have to understand that I’ve been training for marathons consistently (like, every single day of the year almost) since the spring of 2011. I almost never went for a run of any length without my Garmin, and most of the time I also had my fuel belt filled with water and a couple of energy gels. Today I ran about 4 miles, and when I started out with just my clothes and my shoes, I felt naked… like something was missing. There was nothing on my wrist and nothing around my waist. It was weird!

At least once a year, runner’s magazines and websites publish an article about the importance of taking a break from your gear — especially your watch. Runners become a little bit obsessed with pace and distance and time and mile splits. It’s good for you to let go of that and just run unencumbered once in a while, but it can be difficult for us to not know how far or how fast we’re going.

Today as I ran “naked,” I realized how delightful it can be to live in the moment, to not worry about where you’ve been or where you’re headed, and to simply enjoy the present. I don’t listen to music, so I get to hear the sound of my feet hitting the ground and my steady breathing. I get to hear the conversations of other runners as they pass or meet me. This morning I got to hear the little girl cheering as her dad cast his fishing line into the water.

Today I hope you can be unencumbered. I hope you can let go of your gear for a little bit and listen to the world around you. I hope you can take a break from worrying about the future or regretting the past. And I hope you can run naked and not get arrested for it!


Being fulfilled

23 May

This morning I woke up and the sun was shining. We’ve had several cold, rainy, gray days, and though it’s not very warm out yet, it is still a wonderful surprise for us to see the sun. Funny how a giant ball of gas and fire can make people so happy.

Lately I’ve become aware of how little it takes to be happy and fulfilled. I quit my full-time job about a month ago. I am working two part-time jobs and making less than half of my previous salary. I’m also studying to become a personal trainer, a dream I’ve had for more than two years. To be honest, I’m not sure if I have made a terrible mistake or if I’ve done something wonderful, but I am sure of this — I’ve never been happier in my life.

I love my part-time jobs because I help people and make their days better. I am so excited about becoming a trainer because I’ll be able to help people get stronger and live longer and feel great! I love my little life with its little pockets of joy. And I love that despite all the difficulties I’ve had in the last year, I’m healthy and gorgeous and strong. My family is healthy. I have shelter and food and water. I can wake up every day and walk on my own two feet and do almost anything I want to do. And I’m so, so happy.

I’ll never be the most important person in an organization, never an executive or a director of anyone or anything. I’ll probably never own a home or a business. I might never be able to afford to travel to Spain or Australia or even to Canada! I won’t have the status, possessions, or abilities that many people consider important or meaningful, but I couldn’t care less because for the first time in a long time, I’m unbelievably happy with my life.

One of my friends, a woman who has taken her own share of risks and has found her way through many trials, posted this today on Facebook:

“Life waits for no one, grab your HAPPY today and Love like there’s no tomorrow!”

YEAH! What’s your happy? Do it today. Who do you love? Tell them today. Do it and I will celebrate with you!