The Joy of Running

If you love to run, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, please keep an open mind, and read on.

So many of the letters we get are from people who have experienced the transformation from hating to run, to running becoming a joy in their lives. “I hated to run, and now, I look forward to it.” “Running was just too hard, and now I love it.” “I had to run for my fitness test … now it’s my passion.”

At the heart of these transformations is the confidence these people have found – confidence in their knowledge, confidence in their bodies, confidence in themselves.

Running can be one of the great joys of life. When you are out running, it is just you and the road and your body moving through space – it does not matter the speed. It is incredibly invigorating to be outside, to breathe in the air and see the beautiful sights. Running is one of the best ways to take positive time for yourself, enjoy the company of a friend, or relish the time alone. There really is nothing like the feeling after a run. Your body is alive and cleaned out and refreshed. Your mind is quiet and focused. If you run first thing in the morning, you have that wonderful feeling of having accomplished something important at the start of your day.

Practice makes it easier

But, running can also scare people. If you’re out of shape or don’t know what you are doing, running can be exhausting. Many people have given it up due to pain and injury. Some just don’t really see themselves as runners. However, if you practice the techniques that make it easier, and if you are not in pain or causing injury to your body, running is a great way to take control of your health and create a deep sense of well-being in your body and mind. The endorphins alone are worth the effort! They do a great job of washing away the blues and making you feel pretty darn good about life.

Grow your skillset

As with any activity, the more you build your toolkit of skills, the more you’ll enjoy what you are doing. Watching our ten-year-old daughter (who suggested the theme of this article) play soccer has been a great lesson in the triumph of learning new skills. She is in a fabulous program where they focus on learning the game and skills, not just on winning. Last week I saw two years of practice come together and these girls were amazing. Their dribbling, feinting, passing and kicks were all being used in the game, and they were surprising themselves with their ability to move that ball across the field and get it in the goal. They were beaming at the end of the game. Their skills gave them a foundation to experience the fun of the game.

Build confidence

The foundational skills of ChiRunning take some time to learn, but the resulting confidence is worth it. When these skills become the natural way you move and when you experience the ease and fluidity of running, your body will take over and your mind can be free to relax and enjoy the ride.

Make it easy on yourself

For so many people, running is hard, but it does not have to be and should not be hard on your body. If you are breathing too hard or feel you’re exerting too much, here’s a toolkit of tricks to reduce the effort: shorten your stride, engage your core muscles, lean and engage gravity, go a little slower, straighten your posture, use your arms more. It doesn’t matter how far or fast you run. You can take walking breaks and build your endurance over time.

Carmen’s story is my favorite to tell. She was overweight and took a ChiRunning workshop because she wanted to lose the extra weight. What happened was a huge surprise. She got good at running. As I watched her on a video, she looked truly beautiful, like the Matisse painting, The Dance. When I commented on how great she looked, she said, “Oh, I know. It’s just changed my life.” I asked what she meant and she explained that she had never felt good at any physical activities or sports, and now, she did. She had an entirely new view of herself.

Carmen knew she was getting good at running and she was learning more all the time. She glowed with her new-found confidence and joy… and you will too.

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"Running doesn't hurt your body. It's the way you run that causes pain" -Danny Dreyer, author and founder of ChiRunning

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