Run for it

Image found here.
Yesterday I bought a pair of running shoes. Like, real running shoes. They cost one hundred dollars.

Only, I'm not a runner. In fact throughout my life as an athlete I can think of few things that made me more miserable. Few things that made me feel so weak and incapable. I swam competitively from age 7 to 17, with a couple years of water polo thrown in, and rowed crew for 3 years in college. This meant getting up at 5am every day (6am on Saturdays) and getting my ass kicked for 2 or 3 hours. I have been an athlete. I can do things that are hard. I can thrive on the pain and push through my physical limits.

But running is something I've never been good at, something I've always written off as not for me. I've resolved, however, to change that. The thing is that I live right next to the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park, a beautiful green wonderland laced with winding paths, teeming with lean, healthy bodies. I considered a gym membership, but the thought of spending $60/month when I could get in equally good shape using just my body and the park, well, the miser in me just couldn't justify that.

I've already given this one try and ended up hurting my knees to the point that it took 3 weeks before I could walk down the stairs without cringing on every step, stiff like a robot. I was told that good shoes make a huge difference, so here goes round two. I did it right and went to a small, specialty running store just for women, tried on at least 7 pairs, and with the help of an expert, chose the one that felt right. That's the thing, isn't it? The shoes, the place, the air you breathe, your body. It all has to feel right.
Image found here.
Speaking of feeling right, let's talk about yoga. This I like. This is where I feel strong, purposeful and at peace. I have only recently managed to get my heels to the ground in down dog and it is one of my greatest triumphs. There is a lovely studio six blocks from my flat, and the 90 minute classes have my arms and legs and back twisting and folding into places that needed to be found. I hold myself up with muscles that had been missing and forgotten. I sweat. I am only my body and more than my body. I am one in a room of 40 people, melting into a steady, round OM.

There is something about that moment at the end of the class when the teacher takes all the light from the room and you lie flat on your back. It feels like that first time you spent the night away from home without your parents as a kid, when the darkness falls on you and at first you aren't sure what you're doing there, but then you are calm. You feel safe and you try to figure out what that is in the air around you, floating in the dark. It's something you don't carry with you as you move through the city. This thing in a closed room full of strangers that can only be trust.

1 comment:

  1. I'm starting to try my hand (or foot as it seems) at running too. I've never particularly enjoyed running, but I've wanted to be a runner...it seems like such a fit, healthy, and cost-effective lifestyle. I've recently started getting into the "forefoot strike" running technique which touts itself as pain-free running. I'm following the book ChiRunning...I'll let you know how it goes. As for yoga, love that too. My monday 6:30 am yoga class is great (except I overslept today, which worked out fine since the teacher I like wasn't there either). I agree that the best part is the supine position at the end, especially when the instructor comes around and tractions our legs and neck and does a quick 10 -15 second mini-massage on our neck and face and spritzes us lightly with cool tea tree water infused with lavendar.