(Part 4 of a 5 Part Series on Body Awareness)
I'm a runner. I've been a happy one for about 6 years now. I spend a good chunk of my week out on the trails, exploring and finding my inner peace. But it wasn't always like this.
There was a time that I would have spit at your feet if you asked me to go out for a jog. I hated to run. And now I know why.
As we all know, our bodies are pretty complex. Organs, cells, nerves, bones, muscles and everything else communicate to each other 24 hours a day. If something needs to get done, like digestion or healing a cut, your body is on the case. You don't even have to lift a finger most of the time.
For a healthy person, your body moves through these processes smoothly and efficiently. For someone who is unhealthy or out of shape, things get a little sluggish.
So this is what happened to me 7 or so years ago when I started to run again and re-live my high school fitness glory. As you can imagine, there was a slight discrepancy between what my head wanted to do and what my body was capable of at the time! My body was not processing at the same optimal level it did when I was captain of the football team. So on the days I made it out to hit the pavement, I would run fast for 3 miles, be out of breath, hurt for 5 days and then try again the next week.
My mind was still in high school. . . my body was still in bed.
I'm sure you've been in this cycle before. You decide it's time to change your shape, so you burst into the most difficult spinning class, hoping you'll lose all 20 pounds of excess weight in 60 minutes and then never have to strain yourself again. Instead it leaves you tired, hurt and cursing the next time you have to sweat.
It sounds funny when you read it, but this is exactly what we do.
Just recently, I was speaking to a client about running and she said she was running 2 miles a day. Unfortunately, she told me she hated it and the minute she starts she wants it to be over. Which is certainly not any fun, right?! If I hadn't intervened she would have joined all the other ranks of disappointed and dejected, should-have-been runners.
I told her that there is a disconnect between her mind and her body. She wants to run like she did in high school. Fast and efficiently. But her body, now, is only a walker or maybe a slow jogger. The best advice for her was to start off super-slow and then build up if she feels like taking her running any further.
A few days later she thanked me for allowing her to enjoy her run the morning after our class. She felt good, realized how fast she was trying to run before and didn't think about when it was going to end until she was finished.
Wouldn't that sound good to you?
It is simple to do. The most important thing to remember is that your mind may not be in tune with your body's abilities. You may want to run a marathon, but your body is only ready for a 10K. You may want to run 4 laps around the track, but your body is only ready to run 1 1/2 and walk the other 2 1/2.
So slow down. There is no race unless you're at the starting line with a numbered bib on your shirt! And even then, don't kill yourself.
This applies to more than just running. It is important to connect to your mind. Find out what it is thinking and then make sure your body is in alignment. If it is not, then don't let your ego push you too hard. You'll get injured, physically or mentally. If you haven't done any stretching in 20 years, don't jump into power yoga. If you haven't lifted weights since college, don't try to bench 225lbs.
We all have a built in sensor that tells us what is enough. Listen to it.
A few things needed to happen to me before I started to enjoy running. First, I needed to slow down. Second, I needed to stop thinking about how far and for how long I was going to run. And third, I needed to get out there and just start running. . . not worry about time commitments and appointments or anything else.
This is what we'll talk about in the final article of this series on body awareness: starting. You have to start before you have any fitness success!
When I ran my first marathon, I had never run more than 10 miles. As you can imagine, I got hurt, let my ego push me too far and it took me over 3 years to recover. Don't let this happen to you!
Kevin Gianni is the holistic fitness expert. He is a certified personal trainer and co-author of “Lifestyle Fitness", a home workout program for the time and energy strapped!
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