I am not a runner. As I write this I am training for a 36 mile trail run, but I repeat, I am not a runner. I despise running, and I know darn well it’s not good for me. For 5 out of the past 6 years, my family and I have participated in the Rachel Carson Challenge. The afore mentioned 36 mile trek is something I have a love/hate relationship with, and as it might be my last attempt at it, I’d like to go out with a bang.
I have absolutely no background in running, or any idea how to train for a long distance trail run, but I am a Forrest Yogi, so I came at it from the only system I know: the four pillars of Forrest Yoga.
Breath This is 85% of what I focus on when I run. How to get more oxygen into my lungs. How to connect breath with movement. Not choreography or vinyasa, but symbiosis, fueling my body as efficiently as possible. Most importantly for me, I use my deep connection to breath to target and release stitches in my side or recurring pains in upper trapezius. This has been a lifesaver.
Strength Being physically and mentally strong is a must for any sort of endurance task. My Forrest yoga practice allows me to unwind the muscles that propel me forward during my runs and our long holds condition my mind to stay steady and calm. The stability and strength from my feet to the top of my head have come from Forrest Yoga.
Integrity For me, running with integrity means listening to my body and taking note of my surroundings. I’m constantly tracking the feedback of each foot strike, how my knees and hips are doing and of course my breathing. I’m always adjusting my stride and looking out for potential cramps and tweaks. I also allow the landscape to dictate my pace. When it goes up, I walk, this allows me to stretch my calves and avoid wasted energy. When it goes down -and on the Challenge it really goes down- I let my legs to go as fast as they need to.
Spirit The thing I have most trouble with on the mat is the easiest for me on the trail. Those instances where the terrain points straight down and others are scooting on their bums, that, is when I shine. Running with abandon down shale and root covered hills, my body and mind are alive and ready for the next steep ascent, ready to appreciate the next view from the top.
The unofficial fifth pillar, Go Deeper, is so appropriate for an endurance challenge. An event like this asks you to dig deep, physically and mentally. You have to reach down to find what drives you. Why are you out in the woods walking for 15 hours? Why would you RUN on the same trail? When your legs cramp, when your side starts to stitch, what do you do? All these questions and more bubble up while you’re out there, and that’s probably what keeps me coming back year after year.
It’s surely not the running.
So I guess for the time being, you can call me a runner, but after June 24, I will probably never run again. AHO!