Run For Joy (anywhere you can)
Wanderlust is two weeks behind me now. I was in Whistler for 14 days, two weeks which juxtaposed the events of Ironman Canada and Wanderlust Whistler and which included a family holiday of mountain biking, lake swimming, getting lost in the woods trying to find an old mining town and for me, getting in my final training for SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver.
One weekend it was 10 degrees and cold and rainy and wet and Ironman athletes were suffering and triumphing through 180km of swimming, biking and running. The following weekend it was hot and sunny and 28 degrees and I was leading two run groups a day around the trails of Whistler and several thousand more were doing all the things that you do at Wanderlust: ‘Finding You True North’ through a series of soul opening classes in various forms of yoga, spirituality, hikes, food, healing and music. Hard to pin down Wanderlust really, except that it was like a fantastic four day summer camp for everything that is good about yoga and healthy conscious living. I was invited to coach and lead running, including my ‘Run For Joy’ workshop, and it was one of the most fun and rewarding coaching experiences I have ever had. In between my runs around Lost Lake and the village, I visited the ultra-hipster Lululemon Ambassador lounge to chat and snack on both Kombucha and chocolate covered acai berries, and I raced home to go mountain biking or swimming in Alta Lake with my son Ross before the next session.
It was a busy four days, full of a great healthy buzz of music performances, creative people and hot summer sun. But mostly it was a chance for me connect with people who wanted to go for a run. Going for a run is simply, one of the things I do best. Teaching people how to find more joy in their running through connecting skills to the process is just about my favourite thing to do when I am not actually running myself.
For two hours I immersed myself in the clinic, showing people about the magic of posture and gravity in running. We talked about the importance of visualizing and how you ‘see’ yourself and how life changing that concept can be. We talked about hills and arms and balance and being relaxed. I told stories of my own, of my own life changing moments in sport and competition.
My key words are always ‘Run For Joy: Feed Your Soul’. I believe the two are so closely linked and we can’t truly reach our potential unless we have the ability to make the positive connection that physical activity has on our well-being. Going back to Ironman Canada: It truly was a remarkably ugly day weather-wise and most athletes were freezing cold for much of the day. Times were slow and athletes had to re adjust their goals and expectations as the day went on. There was a high level of discomfort that day, but those triathletes had trained for months for that chance to do Ironman, and in that training had laid down an inner sense of satisfaction and emotional stamina which got them through. That is Joy. They may not have been feeling very happy for a lot of that day, but deep inside they were determined to do what they set out to do, and they were enjoying the process (in this case, of being super tough!).
The day before I started coaching at Wanderlust, I went for my last long tempo run for SeaWheeze. Tempo runs are the cornerstone of my training and always have been. Of course I have run hundreds of repeats on the track and grass and put in my aerobic base miles, but for me, Tempo is the heart and soul of training. Tempo is where you transcend discomfort, move into a focus and create the profound attitude that you will use on race day. If intervals are necessary to build the speed and strength for a certain pace, Tempo running builds the mental gold mine of positive sport psychology. When I am running tempo—near race pace effort and discomfort—I am powerful and clear. Running fast and well is my thing, and I can put myself into a state of focus and clarity. In fact I can put myself into a state of not thinking of anything. And this---not thinking anything—is a blissful state for me, who is always and relentlessly thinking.
So if you wonder why I am going to SeaWheeze to race, not run, not pace, but to race it as hard as I am able to tomorrow, now you know. I love to run, love to run fast and I live for the moments where the mind goes still, but oh so clear. Life, for a few moments, becomes transparent, simple and just is.
And for those of you who haven’t had the chance to run this half marathon yet, I must add that the event itself can put you into such a state of wonder and joy, that running it is simply fun. From the colourful attire of every runner, to the wondrous aid stations and mermaids doing yoga on SUPS on English Bay to the stunning connection of doing yoga with 2000 people at the Sunset Festival, SeaWheeze was designed to help you find that connection between physical activity and emotional well-being.
I’ll see you out there. I’ll be running and smiling!
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Writing about the art of moving well and the lived experience of a life in sport.