I’m sorry that it’s only my third entry and I’m already going to write about running. But I just can’t help it. I was at the Y this morning, running on the treadmill, and I witnessed something that I feel the urge to address. I should begin by clarifying that I’m not normally a treadmill-runner. There are only two things that will get me running on the treadmill: inclement weather and the free childcare at our local YMCA. I would drop Sola off and head out the door for my run, but there are crazy rules in place that parents need to be, you know, available.
So I was running on the treadmill and the woman on my left was on her treadmill, watching TV, reading a book, and listening to headphones ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I don’t even know how she was doing it all, but some of it, or all of it, was not getting her full attention. The woman on my right also had her TV on, headphones in, and was texting and taking calls on her cell phone.
You know where I’m going with this, right? It’s just that, ever since I read Born to Run, which re-ignited an old passion I have for running, and began to incorporate a more mindful approach to running, I have been in total awe of how amazing the human body is. I have never considered myself to be very “present” in my body, like some people seem to be. I’ve been known to have bruises on my hips where I’ve walked right into the side of a desk or table because I had no idea of the space my “curves” occupy. I’ve always enjoyed trying new sports and athletic endeavors, but never realized how much I was participating out of an obligatory feeling that “this is good for me.”
My new inspiration to get moving, thanks to yoga, running, and mindfulness, is the unexpected power, grace, and freedom I’ve found in my own body. Switching over to minimalist (or “barefoot”) shoes has strengthened muscles in my feet and legs I didn’t even know I had. When I plant my feet on our wood floor in the morning to get out of bed these days, nerves I never recognized before send energy and vibration through my whole being. It’s been the most exciting, fun transition to make as an athlete. I’ve cut out all the distractions that used to cloud my experience working out: guilt, pressure, unnecessary gear…I’ve even stopped listening to music when I run, so I can hear my own breath and what it sounds like when my feet strike the ground. (or, as was the case this morning, the conveyer belt.) This is why I’d rather run on a treadmill than take Sola outside in the jogging stroller. My running time is about me and body. I don’t want to stop every half-block to dish out cheerios or pick up a toy that’s been launched from the co-pilot. And these days, when I’m not feeling the workout, I just don’t do it. (But I’m loving it so much, most days, I do it.)
So. It’s not that I’m trying to judge people for not doing it the “right” way. It just bums me out to see people work so hard at distracting themselves from their bodies, when those very bodies could provide the inspiration and awe that they need in a workout. I know running, and especially barefoot running, isn’t for everyone. My wish, though, is that people might jump outside the box of what they think it’s supposed to feel like or look like to get their bodies moving. When it’s time to watch TV, by all means, watch TV. When it’s time to read a book, curl up in a cozy chair and read. When it’s time to move, though, don’t be afraid to breathe, sweat, pant, gasp, pulse, and swing like the roof is on fire…and you may even crack a smile while you’re doing it.