I woke with my alarm this morning. Five AM. One of my favorite times of the day. I love and live for the solitude that this time of day brings.

I have been waiting for this day for some time. With it came some fear. I could taste it like bile in the back of my throat. you know that feeling you get when you think you might throw up. I wondered if history would repeat itself. Regardless, I got my ass out of bed and accepted the challenge before me.

running

I also have a healthy level of denial about my age. I’ll be 54 on August 28th. I am thankful that I don’t feel my age and have to be reminded from time to time of my age. The reminder comes in the form of aches and pains from over doing it that I didn’t have at half my age. It’s a good reminder because it keeps from pushing farther than my body is capable and thus avoiding injury. As a result of the injury, I hadn’t run since April 6th. That’s a lie. I hadn’t run since July 15th of 2016. The original pain started the day before yet I pushed through it. Instead of stopping and taking a week off, I pushed through it and returned for more the next day. When I returned home after completing a 10-miler on the 15th, I sat on my porch feeling pretty happy there was no pain. Then I got up and heard a pop in my knee. The pop was followed by pain and a tremendously difficult time even bearing weight let alone walking.

It serves me right. I had been pushing myself through runs. the thought of getting up to run was even painful although this pain being emotional in nature was easier to deny. As time passed the pain also lessened. I thought I was healing and after repeated attempts to return to running even short distances, pain followed.

I sucked it up and scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The diagnosis was a torn meniscus. I pushed for surgery because his original treatment plan was unacceptable. I was not going to stop running. I was not ready to stop running. Surgery followed as did my first attempt, foolishly at running within one month.

path

One year has passed since I ran any distance with the exception of after my grandson or up a flight of stairs. I ran or rather walk/ran this morning. To my surprise, there was no pain. Even better, the love that I had and had lost had also returned. it feels good to be on the path to recovery.

Namaste

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Shinrin yoku

This post is reblogged from Scott Dunlap’s blog, “A Trail Runner’s Blog.”

Ever since I started trail running on a daily basis, I have felt a noticeable improvement in my well-being. I feel less stressed, I get sick less often, and I’ve found a spiritual calm that keeps my optimism brimming through the seasons. Many of you have shared similar experiences, and one has to look no farther than the smiles at the finish of a trail race (and growth of the sport) to know it is pervasive. That magical combo of exercise and the great outdoors creates a meditative synergy that works wonders for the soul, and we just can’t get enough.

We aren’t the only ones tapping into the healing powers of the outdoors, it appears. Japanese doctors, long time proponents of meditation and exercise, have been taking a closer look at the power of forests. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or “forest bathing”, involves contemplative walks through the woods to reconnect with nature, and has proven to lead to decreased stress, natural mood elevation, and even a stronger immune system. Take a luxurious walk, engage all five senses, inhale the “phytoncides” emitted by plants, and your body and soul get stronger.

The Japanese government continues to investigate and promote the healing properties of nature. One study conducted across 24 forests in Japan found that when people strolled in a wooded area, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol plummeted almost 16 percent more than when they walked in an urban environment. Even after just 15 minutes of walking, subjects’ blood pressure showed improvement. But one of the biggest benefits may come from breathing in those chemicals called phytoncides, emitted by trees and plants. Women who logged two to four hours in a forest on two consecutive days saw a dramatic reduction of stress hormones and a nearly 40 percent surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

In one of my favorite parts of the studies, research has shown that the emotions of pleasure and happiness are elevated with an increase in tree density within specific settings, even in urban settings. The bigger and denser the trees, the higher the scenic beauty scores. Yup, that sounds about right! I suspect this also contributes to the sense of awe that we feel when immersed in the grandiosity of Mother Nature.

Perhaps this is just confirming what we all intuitively know. Get outside, engage with nature, and you will feel healthier and more connected. As silly as it sounds to say “forest bathing”, it feels accurate! It’s also a good reminder we don’t always need to always be running, and that a 15-minute stroll is more than enough to improve your day. I’ll be taking a few pauses on my runs this week to make sure all five senses are fully engaged. Smell the pines, taste the pollen in the air, feel the ferns, hear the creeks, watch the butterflies….you know, take a forest bath.

Sidelined again.

I made a decision which has been difficult for me. Decisions such as these have always been, well, difficult. I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off from running. I have an injury to my foot that is as of yet undiagnosed but causes pain with each step.

A few years ago I would have sunk into a depression because I would have continued to run through the injury until it simply became too painful. It has taken me a while, but I have become more agreeable to listening to the stories being told by my body. I am looking forward to a trip to Florida in another month and not being able to run on the beaches when would certainly contribute to feeling sad.
 
I have spent much of the last week rising and testing my foot. I ran earlier in the week and grimaced through the first several hundred yards of a run that simply felt awful. My denial remained on high alert and I deluded myself into believing the pain had subsided so “maybe I can get a few miles in tomorrow”. Throughout the day soreness and stiffness returned and I knew if I held on to the belief that running would be returning the next day, depression would not be far behind. Advil, that wonderful controller of physical pain and discomfort raises its ugly double edged sword at me. Discomfort is well controlled and with that control comes the euphoria of being pain free and a longing for a run increases. I behooves me to listen, really listen to those stories being told by my body.
 
A combination of being busy and not getting enough rest I am sure are the culprits behind this injury. The candle can only be burned from both ends for so long before the flame reaches the center, flickers, and burns out.
 
I have found happiness in this decision. I have also learned, lo these many years, that happiness, especially in these circumstances is about being content with my present circumstances.
 
I’ll use this time wisely to continue yoga, read the books which have been rapidly piling up and go with my dog for those lengthier walks by the water’s edge.
 
Namaste

Wordless Wednesday

This is a serendipitous photo taken during my most recent trip to the Adirondack’s.
As a lover of sunlight, especially sunrises and sunsets, this photo speaks volumes to me.
I hope you derive as much peace from this photo as I do.
If you would like to purchase a print, message me via the comment section.
Namaste

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