1. MUSIC: There is something truly special about listening to music through headphones while I run. The intimacy with the melodies, the beats and the voices is somehow amplified as though I’ve placed miniature versions of the band directly into my head as I move. It’s beautiful. And more often than not, the desire to combine movement with some serious grooving is what gets me into my running shoes and out the door.
2. GETTING OUT OF MY HEAD: One sure-fire way to stop myself spinning in my stresses and dramas du jour is to drop into my body. If I’m stuck mulling on an issue with no immediate solution or resolution, moving my body shifts the energy in a positive way.
3. NATURE: Sun warming my face, wind whipping my pony tail, occasionally a barrage of raindrops soaking my every pore, (I do live on the West Coast after all) feet hitting the dirt, communing with the trees, conversing with the ocean, breathing in the fresh, crisp air of the pristine wild in which I have the privilege to live; THIS is what feeds my soul.
4. FREEDOM: So what exactly is it that I need to hit the road for a run? Shoes (Sometimes. Not even if I’m running on the glorious beaches of Mexcio!) and my body. No fancy equipment, membership or payment required. No rules to follow. No set start-time or time limit. Run fast or slow. Walk up that hill, sprint up the stairs or stop on the sand for a moment of gratitude. Run farther than planned when things are flowing or pull the chute before the body is even warm when they are not. I can make it whatever I choose. Freedom; one of my favorite things.
5. CREATIVE FLOW: Nothing gets my creative juices flowing more than movement, in particular running. Problems get solved as if by magic. Writing ideas flow into my brain like I have a direct line to the Gods of Creativity. If I need out of the box answers, ideas, inspiration and aha’s, a run is my go-to place to get them.
6. CONNECTION WITH SPIRIT: Running in nature plugs me into a higher consciousness. I’ve had the most rewarding, enlightening and life affirming conversations with spirit while running. The feeling of being one with everyone and everything around you is an intoxicating sensation.
7. CONNECTION TO MY DAD: My dad started running in the 70’s when the running craze first started to hit. He did it to de-stress after his long workdays and despite a rather awkward gait and some very sketchy shoes, he got fast and fit. His endurance was astounding. I remember one of the few times we ran together, I had been training for a marathon and at the time and was comfortably doing 20 km runs. Thinking that I would finally be able to keep pace with the old guy, we set out from our cabin on Hornby Island. Well I struggled to keep pace. We completed 17 km at record speed (for me, anyhow!) and I was almost crawling up the stairs to the cabin door when he looked at me, completely serious and said. “One more loop?” Running creates a special bond with my dad and that makes my heart happy.
8. ALONE TIME: According to my Meyers Briggs assessment I’m an extrovert by nature, meaning that I generally gain energy through interacting with others. Now if you see me in action working with patients or connecting with friends, or at a gathering it becomes clear pretty quickly that this is an accurate label however I actually need quite a bit of alone time in order to re-charge. Heading out on a run is a perfect way to take some time away for me. Whether I am at a family celebration weekend, a conference with 300 people or even on holiday with my sweetie, a quick half hour jaunt allows me the time with myself that I need to not overload on social interaction. Not to mention it is much more acceptable than excusing myself, and spending 30 minutes alone in the bathroom…
9. ENDORPHINS: Running makes me feel good and I like to feel good. Endorphins are a wonderful chemical released in our brains that create a feeling of elation and well-being and running is one of the activities that can encourage the release of these awesome chemicals.
10. CHILD-LIKE JOY: I feel joyful when I’m running. Like I am back on the school playground at age 7 or running at top speed over to my best friend's house to talk about the cute guy in Math class that I have a crush on; whatever combination of moving body parts constitute running, they definitely work for me.
20 years ago when I was in the throes of my disordered eating and exercise addiction the above list would have read very differently. Everything on the list would have had some association with burning calories, weight loss, shaping my body in a way that allowed me to feel worthy of love and belonging and obsessively checking yet another workout of the day off my list. It’s incredible to see the shifts:
Connection vs. Disconnection
Peace vs. War
Alignment vs. Nonalignment
Healing vs. Disorder
Connect with a “WHY” that truly matters; in every realm of your life.