Twice within the past six weeks I was forced to take a break, a break from running. Both times the break was related to illness. It was a forced break. A break perhaps I could have gone without but a fate I am not willing to tempt. I have tempted this fate in the past and I have lost. Temptation has led to further illness or even overuse inn juries caused by my unwillingness to listen to my body.
I worry about losing the fitness I have gained. When I do not run I become anxious and impatient. Impatience increases as I worry about the loss of fitness. It becomes a vicious in which I find myself becoming caught.
I am unable to control the inevitable; growing old(er). I know as I grow older it takes longer to achieve the level of fitness I have worked hard to achieve. I become impatient with that thought as well. This knowledge is useless if I do not pay attention to it. This knowledge is a fact with which I must live. I must learn to accept it so it does not control me.
My meditation practice has always served me well. During these forced periods of layoff it has served me well again. It’s a little past midnight as I write this. Sleep has come hard this night and even harder on the heels of the flu. I feel as through I have missed much in the past two days and I require a Mulligan, a do-over. Hind-sight is almost always 20/20. I say “almost always” because not everyone learns from their mistakes. I learn from my mistakes but I usually don’t recognize or should I say admit my errors until I’ve had an opportunity to sit and meditate. Don’t you just wish you could have an opportunity to have a Mulligan?
Thoughts race and my mind was difficult to quiet as I thought “When can I return to running without becoming sicker?” I physically get out of bed and grab my meditation cushion. I set my meditation timer and fifteen minutes later my mind has become quiet and sleep comes with ease. The thoughts of returning to running remain but they no longer haunt me with the guilt which my Catholic upbringing has taught me “should be present.”
Meditation has taught me to focus on my breath. This has been my salvation and has helped me when I run both in training as well as racing. When I do not focus on my breath during a run that’s all that it is, a run. When I do focus on my breath, my run becomes so much more. It becomes a place of sanctuary. It is my solitude. The high which I feel seems to last forever and I feel unstoppable, like I could walk on water.
When I meditate I use a set of meditation beads. I take one breath for every bead and when I com upon the center bead I turn the beads around and repeat the cycle. It is this repetition which my mind finds calming. When I run I imagine my beads being in my hand. They are not but each footfall reminds me of a bead brushing between thumb and forefinger. One breath at a time. Slow and easy at a pace which I find to be my own for there can be no other.
I have known this for many years but age and ignorance have forced me to lose track. Goals were set which were in som way unattainable. Perhaps they were too lofty or perhaps they were in some other way unrealistic. As I grow older and I believe more mature, I set foals which are in synch with my internal breath because my internal breath is now set at a cadence which is my cadence. It is not a cadence set to society and defined by others for others. It is mine.
When I have reached this cadence in my runs as well as in my life I have achieved perfection. It is my perfection and it is true.
Thanks for reading.