Running, until recently, has never been anything more than a means to an end for me. A part of the process towards achieving something I deemed greater. My background is in combat sports. I’ve competed in nearly all forms of it at one point or another in my life.(Boxing, Muay Thai/Kickboxing, Mixed Martial Arts competition, and most recently and actively, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) The blueprint and formula for preparation was always the same, at least in the beginning, it always started with running, waking up early, moaning and groaning, pushing myself to do it.
It was also important that it be done around dawn, alone, and with a scowl on my face. It was a time to focus and gather up intensity. Looking back on it, I realize that I was never truly in the moment. My mind was always in the distant future, in a purposeful daydream of whatever upcoming fight or tournament I was preparing for. It also became a very private thing, as you often have to visit a darker place within yourself. You must allow yourself to soak in all the fear and vulnerability that comes from the realities of what you are endeavoring towards. Confronting defeat and injury can often be a frightful and lonely task, but it’s part and parcel to the particular game I had chosen to play.
Unfortunately, this attitude and paradigm had become my default setting. I couldn’t just go out and run and enjoy myself. I had to bring myself to this place of concentrated and intense emotion each and every time. I felt encapsulated and even caged by it (no pun intended 🙂 I felt like I had been drained of any sort of joy and inspiration that the process had to offer. Even worse, it felt like I was being forced to carry an unnecessary weight that I didn’t know how to let go of.
Whenever I get this type of restlessness, I realize it’s because I need a mountain, pure and simple. I’ve always needed a mountain of some kind. There is nothing like the exhilaration of athletics, the act of surrendering yourself to the pursuit of a goal. Something that will push you to be better than you were the day before. There’s growth, freedom, and self-discovery that comes from such pursuits. Competition and Martial Arts has shown me that in the past, but I needed something different this time. I needed to let go of this unnecessary weight. Ironically, running became my remedy. A marathon became my new mountain.
When I run now … I don’t hate it, I look forward to it. The scowl is gone and there are moments when I’ll even allow myself to look around and smile … Amazing! These past few months I’ve come to enjoy running on a whole new level, especially in Central Park. I love seeing the all the sights. I love seeing the trees, the reservoir, hearing the people, and feeling the energy of New York City. I feel connected. I feel like I’ve discovered a new way for myself to “enjoy the process”. I still have that competitive fire, I still want to run longer and go faster. “You can’t be fast, unless you’re faster than someone else.” is a phrase I jokingly attached myself too, but that someone else is ultimately the person you were on your last good run, and I love that new aspect of things too. It’s begininng to resonate with me on many levels, and chances are, If I’m not teaching or training at Ronin Athletics, chances are that I’m out for a run … or I’m at the bar (I could so totally be at the bar too 🙂
I believe that we are all born athletes and artists to one degree or another … our bodies play and grow strong, our minds focus and wonder, something inside each and everyone one of us yearns to express itself from day one. That’s something that we should strive to honor and nurture throughout our lives. I feel that passion is a gift and it’s expression is our responsibility. The more we do that, the more we can embrace our strengths & weaknesses, our hopes and fears, and understand the contrasts that exists within us all, the more we can connect ourselves to the world around us, the more we appreciate the moments that make all our lives unique. Running the NYC marathon is helping me re-discover all these things. It represents wanting more, letting go, growth, and new possibilities. It’s an amazing feeling when you can still surprise yourself and ask, what else is there? What else is possible? What else can I do?? I’ll let you in about 26.2 😉
Please visit my fundraising page/blog, I’m part of Team in Training and raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society … to track my progress and help with a donation please click the following link: