Saturday, July 23, 2011

Running Lessons, or How Everything is Really Yoga

My legs are mismatched. They look like each should belong on different bodies, not emanate from my pelvis together. The left is the stronger, more structurally sound of the two. Longer by three quarters of an inch, my left leg hangs down a plumb line, ankle stacked below knee, arch of my foot strong and curved. My right leg is in a state of perpetual external rotation, so when my two feet point forward in neutral, my right knee cap points in at at an odd angle. The tibia and fibula curve out in a more pronounced fashion. The arch of my right foot is flatter than it's partner, and collapses as I walk. I can hold standing balancing postures as long as I like on my left foot, but the right, oh my. Not so much.

In the summer of 2006 I set out to become a person who liked running. Growing up I was the kid who walked the mile run in gym class. My bother ran track, and was very good, so naturally I could not be bothered to try knowing I wouldn't be as good as him. I had other talents, and sports, and as I chose a career training horses, I was not in need of a physical outlet. But by that summer, that had changed, I had a toddler, and a job pushing paper, and I needed to move, to have a space and time that allowed me to focus on the rhythm of my breath, to move in meditation, to quiet the screaming in my head. So one day I ran a mile. The next day I ran a little farther, and before long, I ran my first 5k with Kathryn, and was hooked. I ended up running a half-marathon in the fall of 2007, but during my pregnancy with Bridger had to stop running due to placenta previa, and just never got back to it. Until this June.

I'm the kind of person who needs a goal, so I signed up for 10k in September, a race I ran 5 years ago and loved, and have slowly been working my mileage up. Today I got new shoes, to accommodate that funky right leg, and therefore had to run the scheduled 6 miles in mid-day heat. It's hot today. mid-nineties, humid. It was a little not that smart. But I started, felt great for 3 and half miles, and then came to a BIG FUCKING HILL. By the top of that hill, I was blacking out, hearing the blood pounding in my ears, and eerily enough, felt cold and shivered. So I'd walk until I could see again, breathe and be with the panicky sick feeling of, But I still have 2 more miles until I'm home, then run until the world went dark. And repeat. This a skill my yoga practice has taught me, how to be with the uncomfortable, impossible feelings and spaces, and keep moving forward throughout, until the inevitable change comes. I've learned I am so much more than those feelings, that the truth within me is deeper, that I am strong, that I can will deadened limbs to move farther, to ride the waves of dizziness, and arrive where I intend, or be at peace with arriving where I am. That knowledge is power. 

Coincidentally, I still ended up with an average pace of 11:30, even though the last 2 miles were run/walk. Which is the other lesson learned - slow the fuck down in the beginning of a long run, Blondie!


  1. I am so envious of those who like running... I ran for quite a while, every morning with my mom, 5ks and so on, and while it felt good (when it was over) it never felt natural. No matter how much I did it, I never loved it, though I could do it and be strong. It's just not my body's thing.

  2. I find it interesting that for our animal companions, we try to find a suitable job for them based on their particular conformation - for example in the horse world, it's seen as stupid to try to make a horse that's built like a hunter do dressage. But we never give our selves that same permission. Biking is the thing I think I should make myself like. Just not gunna happen. Life is too short to not do what you love. I hear you.

  3. I reread this post all the time. :)