Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Running Thoughts

If you want to find the answers to the Big Questions about your soul, you’d best begin with the Little Answers about your body.
-George Sheehan

Devo farmi le ossa is how they say it in Italian. "I need to make my bones."
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

I have started running again. It is so satisfying to get into the groove and run, run, run. There is something so relaxing about the rhythm of my breath against the dance of my feet. My thoughts slowly quieting as my breath takes over, the incessant mind-chatter bowing out gracefully. Finally sweating, I am free. It is a finite goal that hooks you; it is the one thing I know I can accomplish from start to finish!

It has taken me a long time to get here. I have been slowly working back up to running since giving birth. The first efforts were agonizing--EVERYTHING jiggled, even my face! My back went out in short order and that was it for running for a good long time. So I did what I could. I took long walks with Babou and my excitable dog. I took longer and longer walks and started adding hills. Now I take a long walk and run most days of the week. A year later!

It is a weird thing to say, I know, but I think all the weight I put on during my pregnancy was actually a blessing in disguise. Having so much weight to lose is teaching me consistency—how to consistently take care of myself. I have never exercised so regularly in my life and I have never been in better cardiovascular shape (even though I am still overweight). It is teaching me how to eat healthfully for the long run, to eat in a way I can maintain and set a good example for my daughter. I am trying to eat reasonably, which is an oddly and refreshingly simple concept, yet so abstract!

I work on these new habits every day and am trying to be gentle with myself. The other night I was mentally going through my day while waiting to fall asleep. In an objective moment of clarity, I realized I was picking out everything I had not done or accomplished, all the failings of the day. I was berating myself! I was making myself feel like a failure. In that moment I realized that that was not me and I would no longer allow myself to be treated that way. Since then I have not only made a conscious effort to befriend myself and notice all the positive things that I have accomplished, but also to blow off the rest as aberrations that will soon right themselves naturally. Every day is a new challenge and I try I think of it as another opportunity to practice.

This new practice is truly making a difference in my life. I find myself making healthier choices more easily. I have found that by allowing myself to make mistakes, that I don’t make as many of them. And that is making all the difference.



Domestically Challenged said...

Well done Jo!
I can't run for toffee, my bottom has a horrid habit of jumping up and down, out of time with the rest of me!
I love my tennis - giving the ball a really good thwack is very satisfying!

Life As I Know It said...

I am definitely not a runner, but I have to find a way to incorporate some sort of exercise into my day. I feel so much better when I'm outside moving.
The winter is hard though!

Claire B. said...

I love how you've found a piece of yourself in the running. I'm trying to get back into it, too, and I will feel a HUGE accomplishment when I'm able to run again. Good work--the running and the being gentle with yourself.

Melissa said...

Run, Jo, run!
I am impressed--the reason I hate to run IS the jiggling--but I am glad that you feel freed by it. That's what separates the runners from the rest of us folk.

Your post today made me think of Joan Anderon's "A Year by the Sea." Check it out--I think you'd really like it.

Jo said...

I still jiggle A LOT, I am not going to fool anyone, and I run under the cover of darkness so no can be bothered by all the jiggling except me (I run early am or early pm) but it is so freeing to just do it, as Nike says.

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

You're an inspiration. I'm not a runner either. But I think you hit on the secret -- finding out what it is that you can do and sticking with that. There's nothing like feeling good and healthy.