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Friday, September 30, 2011

10 Km Run, Quieting the Mind & Traumeel

I don't like running.  I never really have, and yet it occurred to me  that off and on, I have been running since I was about 15- about the same time I started writing in earnest.  This thought occurred to me yesterday, while I was running.  It started out to be my usual "if I feel like it", 20 minute event.  By the time I got to my half way point where I usually turn around, I just couldn't bare the thought. See, the way back on this particular route is a very gradual but continual uphill grade and I pass the same scenery I just saw. There is not much to distract me and it feels like a tough haul. The only reward is getting to the end. So, yesterday, I just kept running. Feeling a bit like Forrest Gump, I ran 10km. I've never done that before.

For a few days I'd been thinking I might possibly try this 10km stretch. I thought of it as my own personal race of some sort- a goal I guess, a challenge. I didn't put much more thought into it than that. I didn't intend to make the run yesterday. I didn't even consider it when I headed out. It  just felt like it would be easier than turning around and going back. 

When I was finding a picture to put up with this blog, I found all kinds of information and suggestions on how to prepare for a 10km run.  The most "to the point" one had 11 different steps you should take.  It outlined how you should run different distances each week up to the race day.  The article included the items you would need including water, an energy bar, sunscreen, a hat, and a change of clothes. Hmm...

I ate some peanuts and raisins, had a cup of coffee, did some yoga stretches, dug a dirty pair of socks out of the hamper because I couldn't find any clean ones, put on my runners, and took off.  I did have my trusty cellphone/blackberry. I took it more in case someone needed to get a hold of me than in case I might need to call someone myself. I'm not recommending this routine- I'm just explaining!

The first part of the run after making my decision to keep going for 10km was a little intimidating.  I run on a trail that doesn't have road access so at that point my only option was to go back or forward, no bail outs in the middle. But I just told myself I could walk if I had to- no big deal. Having given myself that option, I didn't really need to use it. By about the middle, I started to realize how good I felt.  For the first time ever in the my personal history of running, I was actually enjoying it.  I had a rhythm and a pace.  I was enjoying the scenery. I could breathe easily and everything smelled really fresh and good. It was the perfect temperature and I felt pretty good about myself. Having never run this course before I had no idea where I was or how much further I had to go, so I didn't think or worry about that. I just kept going. The hardest part of the whole thing was the last few feet.  By that time I recognized the trail and I knew I was really close to the end.  As soon as I saw the end I thought about how far I had come and I was exhausted.  When I reached the end it didn't really feel like that big a deal. It felt like it should have been a big deal, but somehow it wasn't. I started thinking maybe I should consider doing this more often. Hmm...

I didn't really think about much of anything while I was running. And for that alone, it's worth doing. Once I got to that pace point it felt like I was really just "in the now".  I wasn't trying to work out a problem. I wasn't trying to think about a story to write, or my next item on the "to do" list.  I just was.  Maybe that's the runner's high people talk about? If that's the case, I guess I've never gone far enough to experience it before.

As I reflect on the run I see a lot of similarities to life in general.  It really did feel sooo much better to keep going forward than to turn around and go back.  Once the decision is made though and you're on a course with no "escape routes" it can be a bit scary.  But if you tell yourself you can adjust the pace, you can always slow down, you can always walk, the pressure is lifted.  The hardest part of any course might just be the last few feet, particularly if you focus on how far you've come instead of the fact that you've "arrived". And, I guess we're never really done until we're really done. Once you accomplish something you're ready to move on to the next step.

For me at least, I was glad I didn't have a lot of baggage when I started out.  The weight of the water, the bar, the extra clothes, and sunscreen would have made my journey more difficult, but that's just me, and it has to be a personal decision. It might change over time. Next time I might take some water at least. I doubt if I'll ever feel like running with anyone else. For me, this is a solitary pursuit. For others, the company of others is what makes it fun.

Although I didn't do a lot of thinking at the time, I did remember back to when I was  15  and I started getting up early in the morning to go for a run. I ran a track along the river in the morning mist before school and although I didn't enjoy the process of running any more than than now, I know I felt I had to do it.  No one else in my family or within my circle of friends ran. No one suggested I do it or came with me. For me it wasn't for the exercise, for weight management, or anything like that. It was to quiet my mind.  I realize that for me, running is a bit like using Clematis  When you push your body you help ground yourself and for me at least, it helps integrate my mind and my body in some small but vital way.

There is a reason why people are encouraged to approach a 10km run with some thought and planning. I know that makes more sense, is  logical, sensible, and perhaps kinder to your body. It just isn't my style. So, for me it's good to know there are some homeopathic alternatives to help with such radical, spontaneous , decisions. Traumeel is a nice homeopathic pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.  It's a good one to consider if you've got aches and pains, stiff muscles or joints.  It contains a number of homeopathic remedies including Arnica, Belledona and Hypericum. It's probably a must if you decide it's easier to go forward than back and don't do much planning!

We're all different. Some people carefully plan and prepare, go step by step, and pack a backpack before they head out. That works for them and is right for them. They will get to the end. (And they probably won't need a lot of Traumeel). Other people just do it when it feels right. Sometimes they do "it" to avoid something else. They too will get to the end. That works for them and is right for them. Maybe there are lots of times when it's easier to move forward than it is to go back. Maybe we sometimes don't continue long enough to relax into the process. Maybe the best we can do is honor our own methods, celebrate our personal achievements, and honor the path other's take as well. 

And some times, sore muscles equal a quiet mind.

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