Until recently, I had been enjoying the great running weather in my area: not too hot or cold, great skies to offer perspective in life, and few obstacles to interrupt my routine. Entering this week, the situation changed drastically with the arrival of Arctic air, snow, ice, and messy conditions for any kind of travel.
Despite the change in weather, I have stuck to my die-hard attitude and persevered with my running routine. The process has been rewarding on many fronts and I thought I’d share a few things I have learned in this week’s post.
Mind Over Matter
As with any situation in life, often our minds can place limits upon us. One thing I learned years ago when I first started running was to never be afraid of snow. While you do have to be careful with your footing, running in fresh snow pack can be quite energizing, especially if the sun is shining and the wind is calm.
Snow acts as a shock absorber for your feet, making the impact on your body less stressful. However, if the snow is starting to melt or is slushy, it can be like running in sand without good traction to build up any speed. My run this morning was very slushy, so I had to go slower than normal and exert a lot of force to gain traction. By the end of my 6-1/2 run, my legs felt like Jello, but my mind and heart felt energized for having overcome the conditions to achieve my goal.
Running in rain can also be daunting, especially if the rain is cold and the wind is blowing. Dodging puddles can add a challenge that the mind or body really may not want. One thing I have found helpful to think about while running in rain is the cleansing effect the water has, not only on the body, but also to the spirit inside. Running in soft, spring or summer rain can have a calming effect with the low drumming of the rain all around.
While most of my run today was in snow gently falling to the ground, the tail end of my run set a light mist of rain mixed with snow against my face. Though the mixture was cold, it felt refreshing, for I had worked up a sweat running through all the slush. It was as if God was giving me a gentle way to cool down.
Though I would never advise anyone to run in adverse conditions, I would encourage others not to be discouraged by less than perfect conditions. The challenge of overcoming one’s situations can be very invigorating and educational if the mind is open and the body is willing to try.
Benefits of Balance
Though I would have really liked to run fast today, the conditions were just too risky. I’d rather err on the side of caution and slow down a bit than end up with a broken bone or other injury. The conditions today reminded me that sometimes in life we need to slow down, enjoy what the moments have to offer, and just be thankful for what we have. While it has taken me many years to come to this revelation, I am very thankful to have finally realized we all need balance throughout our lives.
During many of my recent runs, I have realized how much I have learned about body movement and balance. Though I am far from a graceful runner, I do manage to maintain a good average pace no matter what obstacles I have to dodge along my running route. This time of year, potholes and ice present the greatest obstacles, so I often have to change direction and be aware of my surroundings to stay safe.
This awareness helps with honing body balance and predicting outcomes. During one section of my run today, I felt a bit uneasy with the slippery conditions, but told myself not to panic and keep thinking positively. I have learned that if I think I will fall, then the odds are that I will lose my balance and fall. However, if I believe I will not fall, then most likely, I will remain upright and have a great run.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Often, I go running to clear my head or resolve a problem I may be having. Though my thoughts tend to wander as I run, all the wandering somehow allows me to focus and see things more clearly or from a different perspective that is enlightening or helpful.
While today’s run made me focus more on my footing than the problem I was trying to resolve, it opened my mind to some other issues and solutions. The solutions I found were all around me, provided by nature’s beauty, grace, and peace. This is another reason I love to run outdoors: it allows me to experience nature on a very intimate and personal level, providing great examples and ideas that illustrate how to move forward despite life’s storms.
Variety of Life
While today’s run was full of snow and a little run, other runs this week offered either wind, very clear skies, a really amazing sunset, or much to be thankful for in life. The variety of conditions gave my body a good workout, challenged my mind, and encouraged my heart and spirit to keep the faith, no matter the conditions.
Though running is a routine for me, it provides much variety in the sights I see, choices of routes to take, and answers found to questions along the way. Sometimes, running is how choose to communicate with God. Other times, running is simply a way to escape for a bit into a different world. Still other times, running is my way of keeping things somewhat normal or on an even keel. No matter the reason, the activity is always beneficial in some way, though I admit sometimes it takes me a while to see the benefit.
Lessons in the Miles
Running has been a great teacher and learning mechanism for me. The miles have served me well and provided many opportunities for building character. Biking has also given me many lessons, but much to my disappointment, this week’s conditions were not safe for biking in my area.
My running and biking adventures have allowed me to cover many miles both literally and figuratively. It is my sincere hope that I can continue to learn from the miles covered and that sharing my experiences helps others met along the way.
Life is a journey upon which we encounter many circumstances, opportunities, and perspectives. What we do with these encounters is what makes us who we are and helps determine who we become.