I agree, it’s not the most exciting word in the English language and it doesn’t have any romantic images connected with it, but I find it to be quietly powerful. I’m speaking in terms here of the role which duration plays in one’s running program and in one’s life in general.

First, here is Webster’s definition of “duration”:

“Du*ra “tion, n. [OF. duration.] The state or quality of lasting; continuance in time; the portion of time during which anything exists.”

Sounds about right but here is the definition from my favorite book the I Ching* or “Book of Changes ” in Chinese:

“Duration is a state whose movement is not worn down by hindrances. Whatever endures can be created only gradually by long-continued work and careful reflection. In that which gives things their duration, we can come to understand the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.”

Sorry Mr. Webster, but I’ll take the Chinese version. In three sentences, the ancient Chinese mystics described what “duration ” is, how it is achieved, and what it’s greater purpose in the giant scheme of things is. Not bad for a book that’s over 3000 years old! So, why am I spending so much time on a definition and what does it have to do with running or anything else for that matter? Plenty. If you want to be able to run for many years to come, it’s very important that you not only work to have the best, most relaxed, efficient running form that you can sustain it’s just as important that you maintain your exercise program with the utmost consistency and regularity.

If you place your exercise routine into the category of things that you do without question, then it has the opportunity to work on you over the years and offer benefits that will extend far beyond simply keeping you in good physical shape. In the first sentence of the Chinese definition, it states that it’s “movement is not worn down by hindrances.” This means that if you hold to this premise in terms of your exercise program, then it will occupy a revered place in your life which it should. Then nothing will get in its way and it will take its rightful place next to all of the other activities that you do to feed and nourish your Being like eating, sleeping, social contact, play, and for some people, work.

Many runners that I know use their running time to calm themselves, to resolve problems, or to take a break from the crazy world around us. That has a real value and the effects can be felt for hours or days afterwards. If you exercise regularly, then just as the positive effects of one run begin to wear off, you’re out for another run, infusing your Being with another shot of great energy. Can you imagine how much steam you could blow off and how much calm you could feel in your body and mind if you were doing this over a period of years? It would have the effect of changing you as a person and that’s major!

The longer you do something consistently, the deeper and more permanent the effects will be. Unfortunately this works for both positive and negative actions. For instance, the longer you smoke cigarettes, the more irreparable the damage to your lungs will be. Likewise, if you meditate once a day consistently for years, you will be more likely to possess a state of calmness that you can carry with you all day.

So how do you create duration with something in your life? Well, one of the best places to start is to give it a priority. If you’re trying to create consistency in your running program it helps to first sit down and ask yourself (honestly) how many runs you want to do each week. Then look at your weekly schedule and find the optimal days on which those runs could happen. Then ask yourself, “What time of day could I run that would insure that it would always happen? ”

Set yourself up to succeed by giving importance to what you’re trying to do. Then, when you come up with your ideal program, make yourself accountable in some way, whether it’s a running log or just checking it off on a calendar. Create some sort of tracking system so that you can see how closely you adhere to your program. Then if you find yourself falling off your program you can look back over your log and try to see if there is anything in your life that is consistently preventing you from being regular with your program. If there is, then you go back and try to redo your program in a way that works.

Its important that if you want your program to endure, that you see it as a work-in-progress and that adjustments are a part of the game. And, the more consistently you strive for success, the more likely you will be to succeed in building not only a strong program, but in seeing yourself as a successful person.

Resources to help you master the ChiRunning basics:
ChiRunning Book
ChiRunning DVD

The I Ching or Book of Changes, © 1977 by Princeton University Press ©2004 ChiLiving, Inc.
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

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