Now that running has become part of my regular routine, I’ve had some time to reflect on my decision to try it. How could I think I didn’t like running if I had never really done it or given it a chance?
There’s an aspect of myself that I call the Guardian, whose job it is to keep me safe. Ordinarily I appreciate the Guardian’s efforts to protect me, but sometimes it becomes overzealous. With regard to exercise, the Guardian had told me that walking was safer and more enjoyable than running, so that’s the activity I stayed with. But then, when I embarked on a life of discovery, I committed myself to asking questions and trying new things.
Observing others around me, I had to ask, “If it is safe and enjoyable for them, could it be safe and enjoyable—even beneficial—for me?” When I looked up running on the Internet, I realized that I had chosen to believe information that was not correct or current and that I likely had been living with many myths for decades.
The first time I tried running, I discovered that the majority of the current information and research I had found online proved to be true. If I followed the recommended guidelines, running did not hurt my knees. And instead of wearing me out, it gave me a boost.
Over time, I have learned that running clearly serves my mind, body, and spirit, much like walking, yoga, and spending time in nature. These are all power activities for me because afterwards I am more centered, grounded, connected, and calm. Each of them in their own way is like pressing the refresh button on the computer of my being. They change my set point.
As I’ve said before, I’m surprised at how attracted I’ve become to running. Having chosen to run alone, I’ve found there is a mental clarity that comes from the rhythm of the activity as I move forward by myself on the earth. A sense of peace and equanimity often follows.
Recently, after an especially short night, I got up very tired on a morning I was scheduled to run. I was also experiencing a major challenge in my life. In spite of my fatigue, I decided I would put on my shoes and try to run, even if for just a few minutes. I told myself I could come home if it didn’t feel right. Within ten minutes, though, I had a profound insight that later proved to be the beginning of the solution to my current pressing problem. I ran the full run and felt my energy actually restoring my body. I’ll remind myself of this experience the next time I feel too tired to run. I can now say that, without exception, I always have more clarity and resolve after a run, and I feel better about the world and my place in it every time.
Each of us has activities that can support us in integrating mind, body, and spirit. What works for me may not be what works for you. If there’s an activity your Guardian has been cautioning you against, maybe it’s time to look at the reasons you’re telling yourself for not giving it a try. For many years, I was unwilling to explore the idea of running and actively resisted it. Now that I’ve acquired better information about it and tested it out, running is providing benefits and rewards I couldn’t imagine before.