Saturday, September 14, 2013

3 Things that Running Taught Me

I never was the sporty type but in April this year, I started running, along with biking and swimming, in an attempt to get back into shape. At that time, I was already spilling bulges off my clothes, refusing to shop for tops and bottoms that should be one or two sizes bigger than my old ones.

Little did I know that more than helping me lose weight, running would teach me things that trained me mentally for my journey to well-being.

1. Focus
Finished 10k in 01:19:41
during my second running event.

When I started running, I had a very clear goal in mind: I wanted to lose weight. A secondary goal was for me to become better at it, having been challenged by some people who did not think I was serious enough about the sport.

To do this, I had to be very disciplined in training. Instead of finding excuses, I made opportunities happen despite my priorities at home and at work, my four-hour daily commute notwithstanding. I also learned that it is impossible to train well if I am both physically and mentally unfit. So I took care of my body by eating right, getting enough sleep and yes, shopping for clothes and shoes that are perfect for running!

From a mere 1k, which I could not finish without alternating walks and panting, I was able to do a full 10k with hardly any walking and pausing for rest.

In running long distances, it is hardly about running fast; it is reaching the finish line. Goal over speed. With this, I realize that FOCUS is the key to meeting one's goal no matter what the odds are and how ambitious it may be.

2. Mindfulness

To maintain focus despite the many things on my priority list, I had to learn to sweep away all worries and fears, and adopt the "I'm here in the now" attitude when I go on my runs. I had to focus not only on each and every step I make, but also on my breathing. At the same time, I had to put all my senses at work in the scene -- whether it's a cityscape of tall buildings or a good landscape filled with lush lawns and old trees -- to remain in the present.

Love running in places with scenic views
As I learned to observe proper breathing and posture in running, each activity became an opportunity to practice mindfulness, a part of the Buddhist tradition, which enables self-transcendence.

Because of this, I often end my runs feeling refreshed with a clear mind and an energized body---full of love and gratitude, and ready to give more of myself to others.

3. Consistency

It's not how you start but how you finish.

My first running event.
It's always great to run for a cause.
One common mistake among those who just started running (and I am one of them) is beginning at top speed, which immediately exhausts the body. What I failed to take into consideration in doing this was that I have to gain my momentum---meaning, I had to let it build up. And once it has, I have to preserve it all throughout my run for me to reach the finish line at an acceptable time.

Similarly, I have to follow consistency in practice. One cannot just be a better runner overnight. It takes practice. It takes discipline. I figured, one of the things that I have to improve on in myself is consistency.

I am glad that running just taught me this.

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