Someone is immediately thinking: running is so bad. If you’re from the joint corner, it’s cuz you’re thinking about knees. If you’re in the dosha corner, it’s because you’re thinking about Vata.
Here’s another place where “it depends” come into play. I run, and it’s good for me, despite what you might be thinking. Remember, there are as many styles of running as there are people. Just like yoga.
I started to run because my knees were sore and my lungs were weak. It was the cheapest, easiest thing to do (no gym, no fees, and no fancy equipment). I already owned a pair of sneakers.
All I had to do was get out the front door.
I started on trails in the woods, and the first time I went for a run, I couldn’t run even a quarter of a mile. I was glad I was in the woods where no one could see me.
I marked the distance with a ribbon, determined to run at least a little bit further the next time. Every time I went just a little bit further. More importantly, I put on the sneaks and got out the front door.
As I continued to run, I still cared a lot about what other people thought. If heard a car coming, I always started running, even if I was exhausted. If I was running up a hill, I waved and pretended it was easy.
After a while I had run enough that some new lessons came in:
–No one knows how long I’ve been out running, so I don’t speed up or slow down for strangers in cars anymore. I could be on a ten mile run, a ‘slow pace’ day, or a recovery day. I could be coming back from an injury. The people driving by in cars don’t matter.
–People who make fun of you for running don’t matter. They aren’t your people. They are people who, for whatever reason, want to drag other people down. Find your people!!!
Can you tell I thought a lot about people?
–People at races are unbelievably supportive. They’ve been there struggling too. They want you to succeed. It’s one of the places where people are truly rooting for you.
–Getting out the front door is still the hardest part.
–The first mile is always the worst. The mind just wants to quit and everything feels uncoordinated and hard. Get through that first mile.
–Breath-work is KEY to healthy, strong lungs. It’s a key component to running.
–You can’t just run. You can’t just keep pounding and pushing. You have to stretch out, cool down, and balance your running with other movements that are grounding, stabilizing, cooling, and stretchy (yoga, swimming, walking, etc.).
–When you run, you have to eat well to sustain the excess movement. It hard to meal-skip, or live on junk, when you’re running consistently.
–It’s not about winning. Okay, all right, sometimes it IS about winning. But for most of us, it’s about finding your balance of health. It’s about supporting other people. It’s about feeling great.
–Running forces daily habits into play. When you run impacts when you eat (it’s never good to eat and run) and when you shower (I love to end my run with a shower). What do you need to do to set yourself up for success? First thing, last thing, right after work? Set out your running ‘gear’ so it’s ready and easy for you.
–There isn’t one right way to set goals: count miles, count time, count days, count steps, count nothing…
Last words about a running practice: Be mindful that your form is well aligned, your distances are appropriate for your body (dosha), and that you take appropriate rest and recovery days.
I’m a big proponent of not neglecting the ‘recovery’ phase of workouts and races:
–Nourishing weak spaces before they become a problem with oils, herbs, and yoga poses.
–Eating both to nourish the body and support the ‘weaknesses’.
–Learning to listen to your body’s needs.
–Resting your body.
–Resting your mind.
And, yes, challenge yourself. Races can be a great place to make new friends, conquer fears, and feel strong and amazing.
In short, find a balance of movement, nourishment, and stillness (rajas, sativa and tamas) that balances your body, mind, and spirit.