Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Running Resolutions (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third part of a three part series on my New Year’s resolutions for 2013. If you missed the first one, you can scroll down to view it or click here . To view the second one, click here

Resolution #3:  Be Enchanted
My final resolution is different in nature from the previous two, but it is just as or more important. It adds the balance that I feel is needed to help make me a more complete runner. Running is a mind, body, spirit activity, but I find that it is often easy to focus too much on the mind and body and neglect the spirit. This resolution is meant to keep the soul of running foremost in my thoughts as the year progresses. This may be a stretch for some of you in the way you think about running, but hopefully you will read on and hear me out. 

 In an earlier post, I had mentioned Thomas Moore and his book The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life. As I explained in that post, Moore argues that in modern society we have become so analytical and scientific that we miss the magical and the awe-inspiring in our daily lives and that this point-of-view does nothing to nourish our souls. He advocates opening the mind to the enchanting and awe-inspiring in daily life by paying more close attention to the magical in the things around us.

Moore has a specific section of a chapter devoted to sport. Among other things he talks about the magic of sports and feats of athleticism:

The enchantment of sports, then, lies first in its capacity to take us away from the laws of nature and introduce us to a world that is real but not limited by ordinary physical laws. Like the magician, the athlete shows us the hidden possibilities of nature… sports are filled with magic. They enchant by revealing a realm that is close to nature – most sports are eminently physical and bodily – and yet otherworldly at the same time. (p. 323-324)

In this section, as in the rest of the book, he reminds us not to over-analyze but instead to appreciate the wonder of what we are doing as we engage in our sport. There are so many things to be in awe about in running. In the earlier post, I focused on the externals, putting oneself in a natural place that inspired a sense of wonder. However, thinking of the activity itself, the functioning of the body, the mind-body connection, the ebbs and flows of training and racing, the rituals surrounding competition, the poetry of a well run race, the power of sport to transform lives, and the power of running to create a community of strangers who might otherwise have felt no sense of connection, can also be a profound way to be aware of the soul of running. A commitment to being aware of these things, to reflect on them, and to allow myself to experience the sense of wonder related to these is what I mean when I say that my resolution for the year is to “be enchanted.”

I feel this is a very important idea for me for this year in particular. It was easy to keep this frame of mind with the running last year when I was primarily running on trails and had the wonder of nature to keep me enchanted. However, making the move to shorter distance road races, with a focus on speed, can easily lead to a state of disenchantment and soul-less running. I wrote about this last year in a post called “Road vs Trail Marathon: It’s a Mental Thing.”  Road racing can easily become an overly-analytical activity, focused on pacing, training plans, and numbers. Success and failure can become very black and white in terms of PR or not, win or lose. I fear I may slip into this mindset and lose the enchantment that I worked hard to cultivate in the previous year. 

Thomas Moore's book that inspired this post
Can a runner run without this awareness? Yes, definitely, (as Moore points out, many people go through their entire lives in a robotic fashion with almost a total disconnect from soul-enhancing activities – although I suspect most of these people are not runners), but why would we want to when to run with a sense of enchantment brings so much more enjoyment to the activity.

My challenge to myself, and my final running resolution, is to find one thing to be enchanted with, amazed at, or in awe of in each and every run I do for the year. What about you? Would you take that challenge? Would your running be better if you did? 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great idea! When I gave up music on my runs, I realized it put me so much more in tune to the world around me (and yes, also with my own body). I will try to find the enchanting part tomroow, when I get up in the dark, suit up, and head out in the 20-degree weather for my Saturday morning run! (this is Anna)


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