Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just Breathe

Breathing. A simple concept. One that happens naturally, without thought. Breathing keeps us alive. Nourishes the cells of our bodies, keeps us conscious. It's basic.

This week I am returning and reminding myself of the basics. Connecting to the simple processes of life, living in that single breath, in and out, living in and for the day, the hour, the minute.

One of the major reasons why I took up running was to deal with anxiety, and it's one of the major reasons I continue to run. Hours on the trail or the road clear my mind like nothing else. The moving meditation releases all the chatter, centers me, connects me to a higher source, evens me out. The taper, which is an important component of marathon training comes at a time when anxiety about the race is at its peak, this coupled with a sudden decrease in my anti-anxiety activity can have a profound mental and emotional impact.

I find myself focusing inward this time around, accepting how I am feeling. I find that when I get in touch with the actual feelings, it is not nearly as scary as I imagined, I'm not nearly as anxious. There's a certain beauty to this stillness, to the cultivated mental state of calm without exertion. I trust that I will be able to tap into the adrenaline, the nerves when the time is right. These days are teaching me that training has effected not only my physical body, but my mental core as well.

Breathing. In and out. This is where I dwell.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Significant Weight

It's taper time. Less then two weeks until marathon day and I wish I could say I was feeling great. The best I can do is ok for now, with the belief that come race day I will be near enough to 100% to run the race I have trained for.

I feel strong. I feel mentally and physically prepared. I have just received a reminder that I am in a human body and that human bodies fall prey to illness from time to time. I have been unusually healthful this whole season and now I feel as though someone sapped the strength out of me. It started with a general fatigue and blossomed into something greater. I spent most of Monday in bed, resting and tending to myself as best I could.

My approach now is to take things one day at a time. It's easy enough to getting psyched out in the 'what ifs' of race day. What if I get sicker? What if I fall and sprain something in the next two weeks (which I definitely felt on my run last night when I tripped over myself!)?

The truth is, I don't know. No one knows what will happen from one day to the next, what combination of factors will lead to the race of a lifetime or just getting through, or not making it at all. We prepare as best we can.

I am giving significant weight to this race. I have felt for a long time that I was incapable of achieving lofty goals, so for years I've shied away from striving. I'm not sure if it's a fear of failure or success (or some combo of both) that has kept me from trying to achieve, but it's held me back from life for far too long. When I started running it touched a place within in me, a place in my core that said 'I can', and I never looked back. I may not be the speediest, it may not always come easily, but no one can say that I lack focus or dedication. So this race has significant weight, and that weight feels nice, I can say without a doubt that I have the strength to carry it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Auto Pilot

It's here folks. The aptly named monster month of marathon training. The month which presents both the challenges of the longest run and the somehow equally as challenging taper. One of my major struggles this time around has been taking proper rest, not over-doing, and I'm sure that heading into the taper will prove no less of a struggle. I intend to savor the last weeks of intensity to their fullest, extracting the highest quality workouts I can muster.

I feel as though my training is on auto pilot at this point. Over the past three months I've had the luxury of a stable schedule which has allowed me to ease into a comfortable rhythm (even when the workouts themselves prove uncomfortable). Speed on Monday. Mid-length on Wednesday. Yoga and Tempo on Thursday. Long Run Saturday. Rinse, repeat.

I feel like there's not much more to say -- I feel pleasantly unconflicted, healthy, and strong. I feel focused and prepared. I approach this time as I did my entire training - with dedication, an open heart, a wonderful partner, and the guidance of an expert. A recipe not only for a successful race but a well lived life in general. With these tools even the monster month is manageable.