August 2011

When I read this bit of Born to Run I thought about how many millions of ways it’s applicable to my life – patterns I’d love to put a stop too, habits I’d love to kiss good-bye.  The more we resist them, the more they persist, at some point you gotta let them be, accept them, and even love ‘em to death.

Strictly by accident, Scott stumbled upno the most advanced weapon in the ultrarunner’s arsenal: instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it.  You refuse to let it go.  You get to know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore.  Lisa Smith-Batchen, the amazingly sunny and pixie-tailed ultrarunner from Idaho who trained through blizzards to win a six-day race in the Sahara, talk about exhaustion as if it’s a playful pet.  “I love the Beast,” she say, “I actually look forward to the Beash showing up, because every time he does, I handle him better.  I get him more under control.”  Once the Beast arrives, Lisa knows what she has to deal with and can get down to work.  And isn’t that the reason she’s running through the desert in the first place — to put her training to work?  To have a friendly little tussle with the Beast and show it who’s boss?  You can’t meet the Beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philospher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.


Christopher McDougall

Born To Run


I found a couple of awesome quotes in Born to Run, this one made me laugh:

“I started running ultras to become a better person,” Jenny told me. “I thought that if you could run 100 miles, you’d be in this Zen state. you’d be a fucking Buddha, bringing peace and a smile to the world. It didn’t work in my case–I’m still the same old punk-ass as before–but there’s always the hope that it will turn you into the person you want to be, a better more peaceful person.

“When I’m out on a long run,” she continued, “the only thing in life that matters is finishing the run. For once my brain isn’t going blehblehbleh all the time. Everything quiets down, and the only thing going on is pure flow. It’s just me and the movement and the motion. That’s what I love–just being a barbarian, running through the woods.”

Christopher McDougall

Born To Run


I ran a 10k race on Sunday and was freaked out about it ahead of time.  I had not done anywhere enough training.

Doing a race in the summer is funny – when you plan it three months earlier you think, oh yeah I”ll be running all the time because the weather will be so great!  That sure didn’t happen.

You also think that it’ll be summer and you’ll have tons of time to train, right?  And then that doesn’t happen either.  Your running buddies are on vacation.  Or you are.  Or you imbibed too much on the deck the night before.  Your schedule is a mess.  It just doesn’t come together the way you plan.

So I found myself the week before the run thinking, hey even though I haven’t run 10km since last winter, i’m just going to try to remain calm and do my best.  Finishing is all I’d like to do, and if that doesn’t happen, i’ll live with that too.  Pretty zen huh?

That’s because the one positive thing I had been doing was reading Born To Run.  In a nutshell, buddy is a runner and because of foot pain is told to stop because humans just aren’t cut out for that activity.  He’s not ok with that.  So he sets out to research a tribe of folks in Mexico who happily run all day in next-to-no footware, wondering if he can learn how to run smarter.

It’s a great book because it’s fun and funny and because he completely debunks the myth that humans aren’t made for running.  The best part is that it makes you want to go out and run.

The race started well.  I yacked to my running buddy for the first while and then she had some issues so we ran separately.  It gave me the chance to put into effect everything I learned from The Book (BTR).

The big thing is form.  You want to keep your foot under your hip and then kick it back.  You want to land on the ball of your foot and then use your glutes to power it back, rather than strike with your heel, foot forward, welcoming every foot and joint injury you can think of.

The BTR points out how humans are the only bipeds with powerful glutes (a.k.a. big-asses), therefore we’re built to be strong runners.  Think of a monkey’s tiny bum, not the bum of a good runner.

Also, if you’ve seen the Kenyan racers run they almost kick their butt, they bring their feet back so far.  I couldn’t do that but I did try to put my glutes to good use.

That shorter stride form also helps you run smooth, you just sail along avoiding injury.

Also, swing the arms.  I tried to keep my shoulders low so I wouldn’t be bunching up but found that the arm swing kept a feeling of momentum.  Especially going up any slight incline, pumping my elbows back more gave me a feeling of forward and upward momentum.

I tried to be really aware of what was going on in my body.  I used to always be so damn judgemental about everything.  It well like this: “oh no, i’m feeling tired!  This is only going to get worse!  This is going to suck!  I’m sure that I’ll be in such total pain soon that I’ll be writhing on the road.  I will probably dead in 10 minutes!  IF I WASN’T SUCH A LOSER I WOULDN’T BE FEELING THIS WAY!!”.   And that was at the starting line.

Now i try to take a more zen approach.  Just see what’s happening and work with it rather than freaking and catastrophizing.

So if i noticed that I wasn’t breathing super-hard, i would take some deep inhales through my nose – to get extra oxygen and calm myself down.

If I was running on a incline I tried to take slightly shorter steps, swing those elbows and remain calm.  If i was feeling winded, I’d tell myself to chill out, it’s just a hill and it won’t last forever.

If I was on a decline, I would take a moment to catch my breath and then speed up my stride to boost my speed while the road was in my favour.  Whether it made a difference or not, I don’t know, but being able to pass someone and feel the wind in my hair sure helped my morale.

Another thing BTR mentioned is that the amazing tribal runners have a lot of fun while they run.  They use running as a way to enjoy being together, not as an excuse to be locked in their own ipod world.

I noticed when i was running with my friend and looked around that we were the only people talking.  People were running very seriously and very quietly and here we were yacking up a storm.

I tried to take the whole thing more lightly – when i dumped a cup of water over my head i fake screamed.  I tried out smiling but probably looked like i was baring my teeth and frightening people. I smiled and waved to folks on the sidelines.  Sometime in the last stretch I finally understood why people run marathons in crazy costumes.

That never made sense to me but finally it does.  Here we are – healthy enough to run, able to join a race and hang out with like-minded folks and enjoy snacks and trash talk afterwards.  What’s not to like?  Why take it so seriously? I can if I remain calm.

The last time i did a 10k, my goal was to do it in an hour.  Because of my sad training schedule my goal this time was to only finish.

But thanks to running like a tribal-woman and listening to my body, I had enough juice to kick it into high gear at the end.  When I crossed the finish line, the clock said 1:00 on the dot.  I have a new love and respect, for running.

I thought that if i grew up, did my best, and made everyone proud of me, it would be enough.  I thought if i got a good job, got a better job, made money, and then made even more money, it would be enough.  I thought if i could lose ten pounds, get a better haircut, get the right jeans, then lose the same ten pounds, it would be enough.  I thought if i could understand, explain, and expresss my feelings well enough, it would be enough.  I thought if I wished, hoped, dared, or dreamed enough, then it would finally be enough.

Then I thought: enough.

I practice being enough.  When i do that, everything is already enough and this is the day I’ve been saving for.

Karen Maezen Miller

Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for An Ordinary Life

I was listening to an On Being podcast this a.m..  It’s one from Mother’s Day where Krista Tippett talks to Sylvia Boorstein about nurturing.  She asks Sylvia about being a mother and Sylvia says that her kids are grown up, most of them are in their 50s and she says “they’re all good people. They’re nice people”.

That really struck me.  There is probably a million things that I want for my kids.  Sometimes I stress about it and worry about – even though I’m not naturally a worrier, motherhood seems to drive me to it.  What Sylvia said basically boils down my hopes for them.  I hope they turn out to be nice people.  Everything else is gravy.