Friday, January 22, 2016

Reflection: Running And Solitude

A few weeks ago, I traveled solo to the annual Nuru All-Staff Summit in Costa Mesa, California. Most of the time I get the privilege of traveling with Jamie, but on this occasion, we felt like it would be better to save money for an upcoming fifth anniversary vacation, and also allow her to support her team better at Healthworks. btw did you know that one of her coworkers (another fellow West Virginian) is training to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon team? You can read/watch her story here and help support her efforts!

Any time I travel westward, my internal clock has me wake up really early, and this was no exception. What was fantastic about the early wakeup was that it allowed me an opportunity to continue to apply some of the habits I had been cultivating late in 2015. I woke up, I read the Bible and prayed, and I began a little personal fitness. As I started, I thought, "I wonder how far I am from water?", took a look at a map, and realized that I was less than two miles from Newport Beach's Back Bay and Nature Reserve. So I decided to get out the door and get moving.

The first part of my run was anything but quiet. I was running along six lane roadways as people were beginning their early morning commute in LA. Within the first few minutes, I also ran past a cross fit gym. This was somewhat comical because there were people coming out of the gym to do a quarter mile run as part of their workouts. The folks I saw each gave me a somewhat puzzled look that was a mixture of "Great job! Keep at it!" and "I don't remember seeing you in the gym this morning, who are you?"

As I pressed onward past the traffic and the crossfitters, I made my way to the Back Bay. This was my Monday morning fortress of solitude. My run was my intentional space for reflection and contemplation. I watched as birds flew across the bay, and greeted the occasional walker, runner, or other fitness afficionado. And simply kept going. I had run through the Western edge of the bay along a dirt path and into a neighborhood. There was something meditative about the rhythm of my run, my breath, and the slow rise of the sun across the bay.

Running in solitude allowed me space for a few things that day. And as I think about it, offers us a space for these things each time we go.

1) It gave me an opportunity to test my intentions and resolve. No one would know if I took the day off. But I would know. Running alone gave me the ability to know that I can stick with a goal even if I'm the only person going toward it.

2) It presented me an opportunity to practice gratitude. My mind was filled with joy and my heart with gratitude as I looked upon the bay and thought about the fact that this incredible gift was just a few yards from the place where I was staying, and that by getting out the door, I could appreciate the world around me even more.

3) It it gave me a mental space to prepare for the day/week ahead. I knew that the day and week would be full, and activities would likely not end formally until 9-10PM. It was the start of the day and week. I wanted to bring my best. This run in solitude gave me a space to prepare for my time with my team.

4) It made a big and busy space seem smaller and more intimate. Here I was in one of the most densely populated areas of the United States, and I was able to find a park in the early morning that was quiet, expansive, not clothed in the same busyness and fast pace that seems to comprise much of a major metropolitan area.

If you run or pursue fitness in some way, my hope for you is that you can carve out some space for a workout in solitude where it is just you and the trail beneath your feet, and that you experience refreshment along that journey.

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