Mirror Neurons, Mudita, and the Joy of Cheering for Others

I love to read about neuroscience.  Over the past twenty years or so, new imaging technology has allowed phenomenal growth in understanding how the brain works.  Today I want to feature the intersection of scientific understanding with personal experience to explore the benefits of cheering for others to accomplish their goals. (more…)

Marathon Reflections: The Enduring Runner’s High

Our Race Director calls it Christmas in July, and I find that the analogy is apt.  The weekend started gently with a few events on Thursday and culminated joyfully with the marathon and half on Sunday.  Three days of camaraderie left me with a sustained case of runner’s high, and it spilled over into the next day.  Santa couldn’t have done better.  Following are some gifts I found under the marathon tree this year.

Here Comes Jeff

Jeff Galloway arrived Thursday afternoon for the grand finale of twice-yearly visits over the past seven years. Jeff’s influence on our running community is immeasurable. Missoula run-walk-runners who have trained under his program number in the hundreds.  We represent a significant sector within Run Wild Missoula membership.  The quality of many lives has been enhanced by his approach to fitness that is accessible to all ages and abilities.  I have been privileged to serve as his host and driver since the beginning; what a delight that has been.

Convening and Re-convening

Last summer’s Great Alaskan Running Cruise brought together a large contingent of 50-state half marathoners.  I had a great chance there to talk up my favorite race in Montana.  About a dozen folks from the cruise (and from all over the country) convened for lunch on Saturday.  Running buddies are a special breed: warm, open, welcoming, and quick to bond.

Those qualities were also evident within the Run 4 Joy network!  Two women I had met only through this blog and our Facebook group showed up here over the weekend.  We were able to connect easily and share a hug before moving on.  I suspect we will find one another again sometime, somewhere.

BOP Buddies are Best

Last and in many ways best, I loved sharing with local friends from Galloway training and the Back of the Pack.  The deep and caring bonds we have formed come to a head this time of year.  We celebrate victories and respect the power of setbacks.  Buddies on injured reserve come to cheer for those who have returned after healing.  We test ourselves and learn more about our capacity and limitations.  And we do it together

Runner’s High Endures

Looking back over marathon weekend/Christmas in July, I am savoring the gifts I received.  Runner’s high runs deeper than endorphins and the ego-boost of achieving a personal goal.  It is about belonging to a community of  love, optimism, and support.

I am writing this on Tuesday now, and Facebook has settled down.  A few more marathon photos pop up, but family vacation photos, political articles, and cute cat videos have resumed their usual roles. I carry the gifts within me and know they will last a long, long time.

Spring Training: Not Just Baseball

By May 1, Spring is well underway across most of the US.  I can tell from buddy posts on social media that flowers have been blooming, sun, shining, and shorts an appropriate choice almost everywhere else.  Here in Western Montana, we are on a different timeline.  A week ago Saturday, I took a bike ride when the high passed 60 degrees.  For the next five days it rained cold, and on Day 6 it snowed.

Energy and Hope

Still, the days are gradually lengthening and cool is slowly warming.  As a runner, I love this season of energy and hope.  After months of resorting to indoor options, I embrace the fresh air.  Now that the ice underfoot has melted, I am willing to stare down other lingering traces of winter. I cheer for flowers as they peek out from behind dry grass.  I applaud the sunny skies when they break through the gray.  I browse the web for interesting new races, and training is well underway (most years, anyway).

Year of the Ankle

As most of you know, this year is a little different for me.  It is the Year of the Ankle.  Last year I dug myself into a hole by meeting too many ambitious running goals.  I was sufficiently “driven” by the race calendar to keep on running after wisdom urged me to stop.  This year, I am focused on short-term progress toward resuming long-term patterns. There are no races on the calendar (yet).  This year, springtime has different (but still exciting) significance.

Good News Comes True

After five months of low-impact cardio machines and strength work, April 1 brought the first few steps of brisk walking and run-walking. One mile. One more mile. Two, two-and-a-half, then FOUR. Four again the next week. May will bring five. My cautious heart sings with springtime joy.  Back in January, the prognosis for my running again was questionable and surgery was a serious option. Fortunately, a deeper look led to alternative treatment followed by physical therapy.  Spring has sprung, and I am springing back with it.

Not  Just Baseball

Spring training is a term primarily associated with Major League Baseball. (Google confirms that it belongs to them.)  Here and now I want to claim it for runners as well.  This is a time of year, at least in the northern half of the northern hemisphere, when we shed our limitations and our clothes and expand our horizons. It is a time of setting goals, developing capacity, and celebrating each step that takes us further on the journey of a thousand miles and beyond.

How About You?

How do you celebrate this season of year?  Does the climate you live in encourage more outdoor activity?  What spring running rituals do you observe?

We welcome your comments, either here on the blogsite or in our Facebook group


Coming Back: A Metaphor for Life

The topic of coming back from injury has been persistent and pervasive as the Run 4 Joy conversation has evolved.  We who run at the Back of the Pack may be slowed by age, by fitness gaps, or by weak links that sometimes break. It may be a hip, a heart, the plantar fascia, breathing disorders, an accident, or surgery.  Something stops working as it should, and we start over.