Saturday, September 5, 2009

Trotting -- a post about running

I went trotting this morning for about 24 minutes, over 2 miles. That's just how it feels, like I'm a little two-footed horse trotting around the track. Obviously, at a very relaxed pace. I am really glad I posted about what a painful, difficult run I endured four or five months ago, so I am reminded how (relatively) easy I have it now. It was not hot this morning, around 8 am start, but very humid, so not exactly comfortable.

Nothing is more difficult than being a beginner anything, and once you bypass that stage, it gets much easier. That is why I am so intent on running at least twice a week, even with knee problems. I don't want to slip back to being a beginner all over again.

Runners become addicted, and most of them run much more than I do. But I, too, have fallen in love with my wonderful lungs, that can breathe so much deeper and more fully. I love being able to climb stairs without getting winded. And I love that feeling that Kenneth L. describes as "blankness," the complete presence in the body without much thinking that happens while running. (He did the half-marathon in San Antonio last October. He was going for the full one but had a baseball injury along the way.) And the glowing aftermath. I don't usually press myself hard enough nowadays to have the "trots" to the bathroom the way I did as a beginner. There are plenty of unpleasant side effects that distance runners have to learn to live with, but I'm on the healthy fringe by doing short runs. I think marathon runners have a different goal in mind than health. More like survival at the edge of existence, sort of like explorers who do deep scuba dives or go to one of the poles.

I have come to realize that athletes have such discipline over their bodies and specifically, over aches and pains. I was never, never an athlete growing up! I have joined the club late. I remember being the last one picked for any team, tripping over my feet, and twisting my ankles regularly. Amazingly, my ankles are much stronger now. I can jog on a dirt track without twisting an ankle, which is wonderful. I'm sure my hand-eye coordination is just as terrible as it ever was, though. Some things never change!

Athletes learn to manage all kinds of bodily complaints and take them in stride. This is a good quality to develop. I was listening to meditation week 2 (Zencast podcast) while trotting -- which incidentally talks of focusing on the body and its sensations -- and thinking about how the mental discipline of meditating is similar to the physical discipline of athletic training. Both require daily commitment and practice.

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