Monday, March 23, 2015

Sunday Snow, Mantras & Keeping On

The second day of spring in upstate New York. (3/22/15)
Another barrier hurdled, another milestone reached. Today's long slow distance run represented some real progress for a number of reasons. First, it represented my return to willingly running in the cold, snowy out-of-doors--a circumstance I had been successfully been avoiding since beginning my re-training four weeks ago.

Sunday's route as seen on
With a seven mile run planned for today, and zero desire to attempt them on a dreadmill watching Catholic mass for the shut-ins at the gym, it was out I went. With a brisk wind at my face, and almost an inch of powder on the roads and sidewalks, I set out at 6:30 a.m. and despite a fleeting urge to do so, I never looked back.

The second achievement had to do with the "how" of the training jaunt. Patching together a combination of sidewalks and streets, and maintaining a sense of awareness of the surface, I felt confident chipping away at the distance. Running familiar streets resulted an additional level of comfort as it is much easier to visualize each upcoming checkpoint, allowing me to more readily stay in the run and avoid the mental drift that can result in a loss of presence. Once again, as the distances I attempt continue to increase, I find myself relying on the tact of following my breath in and out in rhythm with a key phrase (mantra) to assist in focusing.

I've often shared that when I was more regularly running half and full marathons, or the occasional ultra (32+ miles), a daily practice in breathing/sitting meditation was as valuable as mileage, an assertion I still hold as true. More than ever, cultivating the ability to stay mindful or in the moment of the run, is proving extremely helpful in keeping on. Whether during a "race," such as last week's Johnny's Runnin' of the Green 5-miler, or on a run (like this morning), having an awareness of when my focus is slipping, and being able to "reset" and re-establish a sense of mindfulness has proven helpful. It then becomes of matter of not quitting and more an issue of keeping on with that activity at the moment.

This week begins the sixth (!) week of my training plan, with my targeted race only five weeks out. Not trying to get ahead of myself, the mileage will continue to increase incrementally each day (the old 10% rule) with a cumulative weekly increase of 3 miles spread over four runs. So far, so good...

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