It’s starting to get good, ya’all. This morning I went for a run with some of my favorite people and creatures in the world…both of my kids and both of our dogs. The air was cool and clear and the sun was slowly rising and it was one of those runs where it feels like I’m just gliding along with little effort… at least in the beginning. Some days every step is a challenge to push through and other days it’s like this, but this is the first run this time around that felt so smooth and easy.
It takes time and patience to reach that point and a lot of my friends really do think it’s not something they’ll ever be able to reach. They get stuck in those early runs where their lungs scream for air and their muscles protest and they think…”This is what running is.”
If that’s what running was always like, I doubt so many people would do it. You might have a very tiny number of people who did it BECAUSE it was always hard like that, but you wouldn’t have so many people choosing it as their primary fitness activity.
While I’ve been doing this training, I’ve also been quietly working on a 200 hour yoga teacher training. The school I’m going through is very science based and teaches yoga from a modern, non-religious perspective, so I’m studying a LOT of anatomy and physiology to understand how the body moves in different positions and how to use yoga to improve mobility and prevent and recover from injury. Our bodies are pretty amazing in their ability to adapt and are so intricately put together.
And our bodies were designed to move…in particular, we are gifted with bodies that were made to run.
Like so many other things in life, our modern lifestyles make it seem like running is an extreme or unusual activity, but think back to your childhood. Small children love to move and run just for the joy of it. They don’t really have a goal of fitness. They aren’t counting their steps or miles or calories burned. They run sometimes to reach something, but other times just to feel their bodies move. They laugh and grin while they run and then swing up onto the playground equipment with ease. They delight in what their bodies allow them to do without much thought or question about it.
This, at a deeper level, is who we are…beings whose bodies love to move, that thrive on movement.
It’s the constant sitting and staring at screens that is unnatural and harmful for our bodies. Recent studies have shown that inactivity is a greater risk to bones and joints than the impact of activities like running. Inactivity is often what causes weakness in muscles that support joints and imbalances that cause injuries.
This morning, I again felt joy in just running, my kids and dogs around me, all of us panting together and enjoying the morning.
It’s taken time training to get my body back to a point where I can enjoy movement in this way and I’m sure there will be days when my run is less enjoyable, but it is possible, even if you’re older and out of shape, to reach a point closer to where you were as a child, where movement is simple again and a joy.
We all could use more joy in the year ahead.