Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Natural Movement: Sounds Weird But Is Really Cool

Saturday brought yet another full-length day of running and quidditch. At 10:30 in the morning I met Jared, a few members of the team, and the Barefoot Running club, which now gathers with a Natural Movement Meetup group that I've now joined. We met at the southwest corner of Columbus Circle. I was running late, unfortunately, so didn't have time to put on my Vibrams. It was fine, though. The whole idea behind natural movement is that you do a lot more running on trails and natural surfaces than on concrete. Maybe it was better that I wore regular shoes for my first time doing this. Aside from the running itself, the natural movement group incorporates nature into its workouts in other ways as well. These include climbing trees, walls, rocks; jumping over or on benches, etc. In Central Park I suppose it's a strange mixture of parkour and natural movement, but still. At various points, we were climbing trees, playing tag, bouldering, passing logs back and forth, lunging across a field, etc. It was a great workout and so enjoyable because it involved doing things I hadn't done in years. Quidditch was good too, as usual, even though we played with modified rules that involve less running.

Today (technically yesterday, but who's counting) is my third Runniversary. That is, it's been three years to the day since I ran the 10k that started me on my running and triathlon odyssey. It was called the Skunk Cabbage Classic and omg I just realized it's now a half marathon, too! You go, Finger Lakes Running Club. Anyway, it was a gorgeous run. And how could it not be, Ithaca is Gorges, after all (sorry, sorry, I couldn't resist). Here is a link to the route. It's a half marathon, but the 10k had much of the beginning portion in common. I finished in 1:06:56. And I'll tell you something else, I was damn proud of each of those six 11-minute miles. I still am. When I started training for that race in February of 2008, I struggled to run 3 miles on the treadmill, sometimes having to dial the speed back to under 5.0 mph. It was a humbling experience. I didn't really consider myself a runner until a good year and a half after that 10k because it wasn't something I thought I could claim until I had the numbers to back it up. I was absolutely wrong about that. Being a runner isn't about a certain pace or how many PRs you set in a year. It's about getting out there on the road or on the treadmill, putting one foot in front of the other, and pushing yourself a little faster or farther as time goes on, no matter what that distance or speed is.

Running is different things for different people. Exercise, a release, distraction, victory, pain, pride, vindication, glory. It's what it needs to be for those who accept it as a challenge. And those who do accept it find themselves in a community of people who not only care about their own success, but that of their fellow runners, as well. Part of the magic of the New York City Marathon is that the community unites with 2 million residents of the city in this spirit. On that day, 2 million spectators and 44,000 fellow marathoners, most of them complete strangers, are united in their desire for each runner to cross the finish line. And, even though it's an extraordinary example, this spirit typifies the one you'd find at any race, from the marathon to a local 5k.

These are just a few of the things I've come to understand in my three years as a runner. I'm hardly a veteran, but I'm not afraid to say I've been around the block a few times. Literally, of course. The Phoebe loop doesn't run itself, you know. To all you beginners out there, keep it up. Do your thing. You're a runner, and don't let anyone (including yourself) tell you otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! and I completely agree! when I first started running I didn't want to claim being a "runner" because I felt like I was an impostor... now I look back and I'm like OF COURSE I was a runner! I was a runner at varying stages of ability, but I was still a runner. and I may still be slow, but I'm still a runner.