R4J Library: July 2017

Running booksEach month I list resources that have been cited in R4J blog posts or shared in our Facebook group since the last Library post. Links to Library posts are collected on the Library Page on the Run4Joy Website for future reference. (more…)

To Grow or Not to Grow: That is the Question

This morning, my thought-for-the-day app offered a gem from Abraham Maslow: “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or back into safety.” When I returned yesterday from a week of vacation travel, my weekly Run 4 Joy blog commitment loomed large.  I hadn’t been thinking about running this week, and I didn’t know where to begin. Maslow came through in the pinch.

Growth on the Road

Traveling itself is, for me, an exercise in growth.  The challenges of electronic check-in, airport parking, TSA, light rail, car rental, and a dozen other unfamiliar processes can be daunting.  My retired lifestyle in a small Montana city does not generate urban skills. The contrasts between growth and safety appeared at every turn as I navigated traffic and crowds.

Growth on the Run

The contrast between growth and safety also shows up for me (and likely for you) in running. The challenges to safety come in many forms.  The most obvious have to do with physical well-being.  No matter how cautiously we undertake a running program, we are asking our bodies to grow toward the next goal.  In adding distance or increasing pace, muscles, tendons, lungs, and hearts are challenged to improve.   We handle the stresses of an active lifestyle better as we incrementally push the limits. Up to a point.

Too Fast, Too Far

Then, one day we push ourselves too far or too fast. We aggravate a weak link and need to cut back.  We may even trigger a full-blown injury and need to stop running and recover.  As these experiences accumulate, we gradually learn how much is too much, and can tell when to cut back so we won’t have to stop later.

Always a Lesson to Learn

However, while we are always learning, there is always room for surprise.  The aging body responds differently to stress than it did twenty (or even five) years earlier.  As a result, Maslow’s principle applies throughout our lives.  Growth and safety are not natural partners. While the degree of conflict varies and a little more or less of each can enable them to co-exist, they have intrinsic trade-offs.

Growth over Fear Takes Work

I turned 70 around this time last year.  Some people say that aging makes them less fearful and more risk-tolerant.  I wish that were true for me.  As more of my peers describe their life-changing health conditions, I worry about my own vulnerability.  I also work harder to challenge those fears.

Maslow’s quote was well timed, coming as it did on the heels of a fun, not always safe, and growth-promoting trip.  I want to keep his words in mind, along with a maxim attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing each day that scares you.”

What About You?

Does taking some risk in pursuit of adventure come easily to you, or do you (too) harbor an inner scaredy-cat?  When have you recently overcome fears in order to grow?

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.