My training partner and I are very different characters. For a start, he’s a guy and I’m not. Secondly, he’s all over, what I call, silly-long-distances (!), and I’m into shorter-sharper blasts. So our training coincides where his short runs marry up to my long runs…
But thirdly, he runs off a watch and I don’t. I actually don’t have any ‘tech’ in my training bag.
Long have I argued (’discussed’!) how being dictated to by some external force diminishes our capacity to hone our internal knowing… And our discussions (‘arguments’ ; ) are our circular as our running routes – we always come back to the starting point; he does it his way, and I do it my way.
And that’s perfectly fine! (He rattles off endless statistics and calls the pace back in, whereas I run to how I feel – and we always naturally want to pick up the pace! It just add a little colour to our training chats ; )
But here’s the point – everyone has an answer for us. This is particularly the case in the recovering-from-an-injury, or illness, sphere, so it seems. Get on Google and you’ve got umpteen different versions of what you should do or shouldn’t do to fix a, b and c…
And of course, when we don’t have knowledge about some aspect of life, then asking someone who has studied it for a good long while is indeed a useful exercise! (Rather than either muddling along by ourselves, or by taking advice from someone who is perhaps only slightly more knowledgeable than us…)
The running realm
But let’s go back to the purely running realm for another moment (oh, go on then – why not?!)…
From an objective perspective, as with as with so many things in the west, we’ve taken an aspect of life – running – which is freely available and natural, and we’ve commercialised it up to the hilt….
(Or, at least, we’ve allowed it to be commercialised up to the hilt, even if we haven’t singularly been responsible for it!)
Running: simple, free, fabulous for strength, excellent for the cardio-vascular system, a perfect mood-regulator, great system balancer through movement; superb way to connect to yourself and your surroundings, and social if you’re feeling so inclined.
And, again objectively, what have we done?
We have allowed the companies selling new and varied technologies* to us to externalise almost every aspect of our running experience. To turn it into a numbers game. (As well as profit game , I would say – but that would possibly sound a touch cynical, I suspect…?!)
*trainers, watches and computers on our wrists…music machines!
And in the process, little by little it has stripped us of our instinctive connection to our running, and to our intuition.
My training partner’s take on this is, “we’ve got the gadgets, why not use them?!” as he talks me through another formula for working out his fitness… ; )
I’m not being disparaging by the way! It’s very good to have the chat, and here’s why –
It’s all about the exploration
Because the most important aspect of any journey is the exploration. They don’t all have to edge-of-your-seats adventures the whole way, but being open to the different options is a) illuminating and b) informing.
But when we’re caught up in the latest ‘must try it this way’, or someone else’s ‘this is the way to do it’, we stop listening to ourselves and what we really need… We become wholly suckered into someone else’s version of what works.*
*I have done this too by the way. In the past, I’ve had heart-rate monitors, different pacing gadgets, tried different diets and explored all manner of footwear… Until I stopped and really asked what was and wasn’t working for me. And decided to fully invest in what was…
Going there to find out
Granted though, sometimes you do have to go ‘there’ to find out…
Maybe we have to play around with the stats and logging every run. Maybe it’s an enjoyable ‘add’ to the activity – and that’s perfectly fine, if it fuels your experience of it all. Perhaps optimal efficiency and training peaks are not what’s really driving your running though. And this is where my training partner and I really differ – we want different things from our running.
He wants to race scientifically and loves the numbers; I want to run to feel the freedom and capacity in my body, and to allow the movement to take away my tensions or build-up of emotions (only on the odd occasion, of course! ; )
And that’s ok, because his answer isn’t my answer. And that’s the whole point, is that we have to find out our answers for ourselves, don’t we?
I want to feel fit – I don’t need the numbers to gauge how fit I am; I want to connect with my body and the environment (and the people that I’m running with) and feel strong and powerful when that’s where I’m at; I don’t really wish to connect to the computer at the end of my run…and that’s fine too.
Of course, we have to try things out – different pairs of pumps, different nutrition, different approaches to healthcare – and sometimes we have to listen to someone else’s version of what works first, in order to ask why? Why do it that way? And, does it make sense for me…?
But when we buy a story that’s on someone else’s agenda (not least when it’s on the big corporations agenda, and we’re buying their gadgets, or their medications…), we skip the opportunity to serve ourselves.
We are our best judge
In so many cases, we’ve been sold a story – what we should or shouldn’t be accessorising with! – by the companies who make these things and then we collectively perpetuate the story as we persuade ourselves to treat ourselves to the latest must-have model – and all that it can offer us!
Of course it’s not wrong. And I’m not judging. We are all our best judge, for us…
I simply say – have we got our eyes wide open to how it’s taking away something from this free and easy activity? Perhaps our reliance on the external nature of the ‘gadgets’ has taken away our internal knowing….? That intuition which allows us to know what pace we’re running at (ok, possibly with a spot of practice!), when to ease up because our body is getting overloaded, tired or full-on fatigued. The accessories which stop us from moving our body (starting at our feet in trainers) in the way that it naturally wants to…
I’m not suggesting that the totally natural is the way. Granted, that is my way. But I simply point out that if we hone our ability to interpret our internal reactions, and foster the connection to our self, we’re going to learn so much more about ourselves…
Because when we’re fully experiencing our activities as a conversation with ourselves, we’ve got a much better chance of doing things which benefit us…a much better chance of making our own best decisions. And ultimately, we have a far greater chance of having a meaningful relationship with our own individual selves and our body’s intuition – its real knowing…
And running – sport – isn’t the only arena where we’ve been sold a story that maybe isn’t always in our best interests…in fact, you could argue that almost all spheres – food, medicine… – have been corrupted and turned into a commercial conveyor belt. One that’s arguably diminishing our powerful connection to ourselves.
Slowing down to listen
In order to connect to and nurture that internal sense, we need to give ourselves the opportunity to stop, or at least slow down, and provide ourselves the mental space to listen to what we’re experiencing… When we hear what we’re feeling, only then can we decide if it’s good for us or not. When we know this, we’re in a place to make a change if we need to.
It strikes me that we’ll only really get there when we stop distracting ourselves with all and sundry on the outside… and start really paying attention on the inside! To finding out the answers for ourselves.
But then, as I say, that’s my way!
Enjoying the exploration and finding your own fitness formula
Going there (or buying into the ideas) to find out is absolutely part of the exploration! Being inquisitive is imperative. However the greatest way in which we can honour ourselves is to turn that inquisitiveness back on yourself and to ask, how is this serving me? Is this a good answer for me…
In that way, we can also be open to rejecting someone else’s version – someone else’s answer – in favour of what really works for us and finding our own fitness formula!
By the way, I’m very fond of my training partner and I do love a fitness formula. It’s just that mine is run, eat, sleep, drink water and do yoga… ; )
Come and join in some brilliant exploration in 21-Days of Holistic Running Health Immersion starting next week on 5th February…it’s absolutely free!