Tis the season of sickness...since November, DH and I have suffered 2 bouts of the flu each. The most recent one struck Wednesday night and has left me feeling weak, whiny and droopy. This time, trying to nip the vicious virus in the bud, I've been washing down antibiotics and Vitamin C with cup after steaming cup of green tea with honey, lemon and crushed ginger. My tongue feels numb and my taste buds have withered under the onslaught of gallons of scalding fluid.
Ironically, this is just what my body needed...a short break from running. Or so I told myself as I spent all of Saturday on the couch, reading the March issue of Runner's World* and watching 2 hours of...umm...Keeping up with the Kardashians. Hey, what do you expect? There's NOTHING worth watching on Cable TV on a Saturday!
* Did you read Kara Goucher's story on Runner's World? I've always marveled about the enormous mental pressure top athletes have to endure. Aside from their own dreams, peppered with doubts and uncertainties, they also carry the weight of their entire country's expectations.
Even for us 'recreational runners' (the rest of the crazy running community), except for a precious few who run solely for the fun of running or for the benefits they get out of it, running largely involves setting goals, measuring our performance against the goals and strategizing on how to accomplish these goals. The importance we attach to these goals varies from person to person. But at some point or the other, most of us have battled nerves...sleeplessness the night before an important race, nightmares that we might forget part of our gear, fantasies that we may not be able to complete.
I found this article, which I enjoyed and wanted to share with you.
The Zen of Running
Most of us practise zen running in some form or the other. For example, while I enjoy spinning to music, I never run to the accompaniment of music. The ipod DH gifted me a while ago has been collecting dust. I prefer listening to the sounds of birds and enjoying the changing scenery.
The author suggests alternating between concentration and contemplation. While contemplation is a normal activity during running, in my estimation I spend less than 10% of my run on concentration...paying attention to breathing, footfall, the fluid motion of the body. Concentration not only helps you understand your body better, it also helps center you and shut out the mental chatter. And if you can do it while running, you can definitely incorporate it into other areas of your life...for instance, the night before a race!
I decided I was well enough for a dreadmill run today. Normally, I find running on the treadmill intolerable and suffocating. A pang of regret hit me as I stepped outside and realized what a glorious day it was, but better senses prevailed. I don't feel well enough for outdoor running yet; the cold air induces a hacking cough. So, I churned out 3 miles on the 'mill, while trying to concentrate on my breathing (or the lack of it) in the stale, recycled gym air. I was sweating buckets and extremely uncomfortable during the entire run, but I did it...and finished off with 20 minutes on the bike.
The verdict: If you want to try zen running, start outdoors!
The week in review: 28 miles
Monday: 8 mile tempo (2 miles w/u, 8:09, 8:07, 8:10, 8:08, 8:00, 1 mile c/d); spinning - 1 hour
Wednesday: 5 miles (42)
Thursday - 12 mile long run (1:43)
Friday & Saturday: rest
Sunday: 3 miles on 'mill, 20 minutes on bike