“…was Zatopek a great man who happened to run, or a great man because he ran? Vigil couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but his gut kept telling him that there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running.”
-excerpted from Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Well, if this is the truth I am completely, totally screwed. I have despised running from the moment I had to do my first lap in gym class. The ability for my feet to move my whole body forward in space, and have my breath keep pace has plagued me literally my whole life. So if someone put a magic ball in front me years ago and I saw me running at the age of 44 I would definitely suggest they get a new magic ball.
At the beginning of this summer a client of mine shared a new app for her IPhone that she was using to learn how to run – Couch to 5K (the program outline is also available online). Each session starts with a five-minute warm up. The first interval training portion started with 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking , this pattern was repeated for 20 minutes. Each week the interval portion increases in time and the walking eventually phases out. A five minute cool down is also included. This app and the fact there was a new puppy in the house who needed to expend some energy got me out the door three times every week. I was “running.”
I did all the things I’ve heard and read about running from the experts, so I would start off the right way. I went to a local running store near the fitness center I work at, Potomac River Running. Dan assessed the pressure balance between my feet, which appeared on a screen in front of me in a rainbow of colors. Then he had me get on a treadmill for a little jog to see how my feet landed. And “WahLaa” I had my first pair of running shoes.
I kept my newest challenge a secret from my roommate who literally has been running since emerging from her mother’s womb I wanted to do this on my own. I kept my running shoes in my closet instead of at the front door where all the shoes rest and stashed my new fanny sack with its ergo-running shaped water bottle with the shoes. I wanted to be able to at least go 20 minutes before I divulged my newest fitness endeavor.
“The engineering was certainly both the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding.”
– continued excerpt by McDougall
“Loosening your grip on your desires” Hmmmm.
When I place each foot down a desire to move faster falls with it. I push my feet to move faster and harder than they already are. My lungs, however, hit a wall when I drive my feet. I’ve been told by health care providers radiation has scarred my lungs permanently. It is as if a net covers these organs preventing them from their natural capacity to expand. The harder I push the tighter the net constricts.
Now I am caught in a battle with my desire to run longer and the inability to connect with do this thing I so badly want. I hear my brain tinker with the idea of going longer, my rapidly beating heart pulls the desire in, and my lungs begin to grasp at every breath. The more I think about going faster (as I run), instead of focusing on a pace of synchronicity between my legs and lungs, the more I feel my anxiety arise. I grab at my desire. I lose my ability to breath. I feel broken.
This week I finally broke the two-mile mark. I ran two and a half miles in 30 minutes, a major sense of accomplishment for me. Each moment an activation of a check and balance system between the tapping of my foot on the earth and the ability to sustain each touchdown with a full breath.
“Be happy so long as breath is in you,” a tea bag gently reminds me this morning as I pour hot water into my dragonfly cup. My ability to love running is going to take more time. Right now I do what I can and in the same moment I acknowledge my body for coming this far.