52 Things I’ve Learned From Running

danny-dreyer… a weekly blog from Danny Dreyer, co-author of ChiRunning and ChiWalking. Subscribe to this blog series here.

Welcome to my new blog series about what I’ve come away with from my many years of running – besides a lot of miles on my legs, and more shoes than Imelda Marcos (actually, I’ve given most of them away). Running plays a significant role in my personal practice to improve myself and evolve. These blogs are the nuggets I’ve discovered that have deeply impacted my life and my life choices. As I have come to discover, most of what I’ve learned goes way beyond running itself and has much deeper personal applications. These “lessons,” combined with the principles and philosophies of T’ai Chi, help me to touch on the Universal laws that now guide my everyday life.

What running provides is a unique set of challenges that are best met with a full body/mind, whole-person response. In the next 52 weeks I’ll go into what those challenges are and how they’ve helped me in my life. Enjoy this journey, and join me in a conversation to celebrate the sacred place running has in our lives. I’d love to hear your stories.

#1 – You are here… always in the perfect time and place for positive change
At this point in my life I’m convinced that none of us was put on this planet just to take up space. My suspicion is that we’re put here to evolve; and if you want to get specific, I think we’re here to grow beyond where we’re at right now, even if it’s in miniscule increments. Change is the only constant in this physical Universe of ours. Every moment has potential for growth and understanding, or on the other hand, for stagnating or degrading to our lower selves.

What I have learned from my running practice is that the best time and place for change to occur is right now, because this moment is the best launching pad for growth. And, nothing helps me get to a more present state than running. I know from coaching that this isn’t the case for everyone. Many people find that running challenges throw them directly into a state of self-judgement. But, for me, at the age of 63 with 40 years of running and 28 years of coaching experience, running is my haven of neutrality, despite (and actually because of) the challenges that arise.

I like to see challenges as gateways for change and opportunities to grow. One thing I’ve noticed about challenges is that in reality they never happen in the future. I think they are in the future, but those are not real challenges; they’re simply thoughts popping out of my mind. Real challenges only happen in the present moment; and how to respond to the here-and-now is the most important issue that is ever in front of me. That’s why I love running as a practice; it puts me squarely into the present moment and requires me to respond to what’s happening right under my nose.

Today, it was raining and I didn’t want to run in the rain. So, I got over myself and went running anyway, but decided to run on the streets (I knew the trails would be a total mud bath). My neighborhood is nothing but hills. So, I decided, in the moment, to do some hill intervals. As I ran each hill I used every hill focus I know. In fact, I got so involved in practicing my hill focuses that I not only forgot about the rain, but I discovered a new teaching tool to use in my next classes.

What’s the lesson here? You can’t know where to go if you don’t know where you are.

There are 3 steps for creating change:
Step 1: Body Sense what you feel right now.
Step 2: Given what you feel, what is it that you need?
Step 3: What could you do, in response to your need, to create positive change?

Try these out, and I’ll see you next Tuesday.

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