After being on my own outside of school, I have run on and off for most of my adult life. In some ways, I wish I had started earlier, but realize, with all we only now know about human physiology, motivation, competition and the Spiritual aspects of running, the right kind of teacher would have been unusual to find in a New England school in the 70's.
I would have wanted to know some of the things I am learning from the hours I have had now to listen and think as I run. In my mind, I am crossing mental areas of thought such as Taoism, metaphysics, and Shamanism. They keep me running daily. They keep me fully engaged with the changing faces of the inner and outer dance outside in all seasons.
My daily runs are different than those focused on getting competitively fast for races or capable of long hours (4 hours to 3 days - yes, without sleep!) on the trails, such as what ultramarathoners crave.
I am somewhere betwixt and between. And I call this Running with Grace.
Running with Grace means running inside myself out, almost like a dancer. There is gravity to align to and center my whole body within. And then there is the moving along with a slight falling forward sensation as my whole body tilts. Each back foot literally springing me into the air such that both feet leave the ground for an instant. For a moment I am flying in an arc as I land gently, to absorb as much jarring as possible. There will always be improvement in this "Graceful" style. The way the arms swing from the mid-back to out through loose fists held with thumbs up, helping to counterbalance the legs' alternate thrusts forward. I am alive.
The smoothness of it all is my sweet focus. The Grace of movement and - yes - feelings that bubble up are just moving out of me, too. Runners will talk about the runner's high after exhaustion or, at times, just needing to let go of the forcing or pushing that brings joyful release. Some ultramarathoners actually describe their highest high as when their body is past its usual limits of endurance and yet moving almost in a cocoon of weightlessness.
The Runner looking for Grace, is always engaged in wonder and curiosity.
Running with Grace allows me to BE/to move/to think within my running. To find a sweet spot each and every run as soon as I focus and step out into my run. Because, even if I am a little stiff and heavy with gravity when I begin, I look for THAT dance too. At these times, maybe I am slower and more giving as my muscles further cushion my joints and ligaments until they warm up a little more.
But I stay with Grace throughout my run. And I time my runs daily according to my schedule, energy coming into the run (for example, a bad night's sleep may get a shorter run), and nutritional energy levels. As a Vegan, I'm always checking my fats/proteins/carbs ratio and amount of calories to get the best day-long energy level. This is also work I love too.
Try it. Run with the Grace of your animal self. Spring is here for a time of renewal in all of our wild world.