Monday, March 7, 2011

Running solves almost everything

Solve: verb. to find an answer to, explanation for, or means of effectively dealing with (a problem or mystery) ORIGIN: Late Middle English (in the sense loosen, dissolve, untie) from Latin solvere "loosen, unfasten."

Something I have discovered over the last year is that running solves many of life's problems, which sounds oddly familiar to a quote by Homer Simpson about beer.  But, like alcohol, running gets in the blood, but instead of clouding the mind, running clears the mind, offering opportunities to think and dream in a positive way like few other activities can.  Running will loosen you, you may become unfastened in the process, but the refastened you will be leaner, fitter and healthier.

I have done yoga for a long time.  Yoga offers a beautiful way to clear one's mind.  Focusing on poses, pushing my edge and yogic breathing allows any tension to melt away.  I cannot live without yoga, just as I now cannot live with out running.

Running is different.  Since I don't have to focus on form like I do in yoga, my mind wanders, drifts, and comes back to me with new ideas and fresh perspectives.  Even though I usually listen to music while running, the music helps me get out of the gate and set a tempo.  Then I lapse into a groove, where my thoughts take over and the music just provides the rhythm to which my feet hit the ground.  The noise of life dissolves.  My body goes into autopilot and my mind begins to explore corners and closets inside it that I would never otherwise have the quiet time to uncover.  I spend running time unraveling issues and finding solutions to problems.  If my legs start slowing down, I go back to listening to the music to pick up the pace.  I come back from my runs refreshed and excited about new ideas and answers.

So how does running solve most of life's problems?  I've listened to my friends complain, over and over about their lives:  Too fat, too tired, too sick, too depressed, too negative, hate my job, hate my spouse, hate my body, kids driving me crazy, etc. etc..  Maybe it's too easy for me to say, "Just start running." But, most of the time, that's what I want to say.  No other exercise (except maybe biking) offers the sense of pride and accomplishment that running does.  I can measure miles, pace, calories, altitude, and inches/pounds lost.  Does it get any better than that?  I could tell my friends that not only can they impress themselves regularly,  they get a chance to think, and to get away from the life that's wearing them out.  Minds will clear, and problem-solving will take place.  Suddenly we feel better about ourselves as we tone up, lose weight, and get tougher.  We have things to celebrate (race days, PRs, distance achievements, etc.)

Running has changed my life in such a positive way, solving many of my "problems."  Running affects how and what I eat (I see food as fuel, so I eat healthier), how I schedule my days (I'm more efficient), I impress myself with my toughness, and best of all, my husband and I are teaching our children a healthy lifestyle.  I feel good about my body not because of how it looks (although running has definitely helped it look better) but because of how far it will take me.  I am thankful for my physical and mental strength.  I think twice about loading up on chili cheese fries because of how it will make my next run feel. (Blah).  

No question the hardest part of running is getting started.  The pain, soreness, stiffness all make us question whether or not running is for us.  But, I promise, if you can get past the first month, you will never look back.  Problems solved.

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