Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Be Still Then Run

"Why can't I stop myself from always running balls to the wall."

That is the text I received this morning from a friend training for his next half marathon. Yes, his next half marathon. He's run quite a few already so he understands a training schedule, rest days, and the tapering off period.

He understands them. He just doesn't always follow them. And right now his knees are bothering him four days before race day.

We had talked earlier in the week about how since this was his taper time he would take it a little easier. Some extra yoga and pilates, but no more long, hard runs.

So, of course, this morning he went out and ran.

Dude, seriously? Your body is talking to you. Listen to it!

(Disclaimer to those reading who know me well -- yes I know I am not exactly the poster child for listening to your body. Yes I remember I am the one who tore the ligaments in my foot on a run after the doctor told me no more running. I am attempting to apply those hard earned lessons here.)

The first yama of yoga is ahimsa: non-violence. Not only do we not hurt others, but we don't hurt ourselves, including pushing our bodies into pain or injury.

The beauty of yoga is that it teaches us to listen to our bodies. So when the knees are saying stop running, we'd be wise to listen.

My runner friend admitted he has a really hard time letting himself take it easy. We talked about how taking it easy doesn't mean the same thing as laziness. The body needs worked to be healthy and strong. But just as importantly it needs rest. Resting sore, tired, perhaps injured muscles is an important part of the training process for runners, athletes and yogis.

It could be something as simple as his stride being a little off, needing new shoes or just running a little too hard for a little too long. But the knees are like shock absorbers for the body. Any extra physical weight will affect the knees. Psychological weight will have an impact too.

So what else is going on right now? Is there anything emotionally he is holding on to that is weighing him down?

I don't know the answer. I did encourage him to make it to yoga class in the morning. Spend some extra time just being still, breathing, and seeing where the stillness takes him. Discover what he feels in the physical body, and also what he feels internally.

He's worked hard these past few weeks doing the physical work. Now, be still and do the mental work.

Come race day, I know he'll be ready to cross that finish line.


  1. My guy is a little bit like this and I've learned to give him space to move fast. It's a way to calm his stress, totally opposite to how I calm myself (stillness)


  2. YES YES YES. It is amazing what our bodies tell us if we are only willing so LISTEN to it! Our mind loves to create stress and obligations and neglects to ask what the body wants. I think a lot of people think if they listen to the body they will never want to work out. But quite the contrary - it is my body that wants to work out more than my mind! Beautiful post and such important lesson! <3