Run like water

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October 9, 2015 by scratchtype1

As always, I continue to read various materials and try to draw ideas from them. I’m not quite ready yet to explain exactly what made me think of it, but when I went out to run today, I spent most of the run trying to imagine myself as water. Be like water. Find the path of least resistance, both on the road and in the musculature and fascia of the body. Flow. Effortless.

I may have observed a few things along the way. Cars can be disruptive to the balance between concentration on the idea of being water and not concentrating with that as well. A car grabs the attention because they are danger. But maybe that’s where I’m still inexperienced at trying to achieve a zen-like(?) state. If I master that, the cars and their danger can appear but I can maintain the balance and I can run like water, smoothly flowing over the surface of the road.

Avoid looking down too much while running. A few times where the road surface was more crumbly and uneven, I would start to look down, and often when I did so, I found my stride became stiffer and more cumbersome. I would lose the flow. Of course, if you’re running barefoot or minimalist, you’re often trying to see where you want your feet to land, but you need to learn to map those out in your head and trust that map you create in your head will guide your feet to the proper landings. And I definitely felt a best sense that my running was flowing like water when I was looking broadly, not fixed on single points, but seeing the whole of everything in front and to the sides of me. I could imagine myself as a river finding the easiest course.

I ran pretty fast for my heartrate this morning, even though I had done more than 10 miles the day before. But one data point does not make proof. It could just be I was in good shape to run at a decent clip today and there was nothing special added by the thinking of myself as water.

There is skill and art to learn to run relaxed. But running relaxed doesn’t mean becoming floppy. There’s a balance between tension and floppiness and that’s where you want to run along the narrow beam.

I’m still learning how to run. I’ve been running seriously now for a little over 26 months and almost 3300 miles, but I’m still learning how to move, how to run. It would have been far better if I had learned this as a child, but I didn’t. But there is still value in learning it even when you’re past the age of 40, although if you are doing that like me, be aware that you are likely to have many less-than-ideal movement patterns, because of too much sitting, and I think because of the interference of shoes. Our bodies are complex assemblies of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. And nerves. It’s through our nervous system we learn. Yet most of us these days don’t learn to walk and run as guided by the nerves that are in the soles of the feet. We spend most of our childhoods in shoes, cutting our feet off the sensation of the ground below us and how that affects our bodies’ positions. Because of that, our muscles and fascia don’t learn to move in an efficient way that evolution would have selected for us, that evolution would have demanded of us in order to keep us alive and moving.

But I ran like water some today. It felt good. I need to practice that more.

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