Crawling Back On

Three weeks ago I confessed to being off the exercise wagon. Sometimes I’ve actively been chasing it down. Sometimes I just feel like I’m being dragged by my tether.  It’s been inconsistent and I’m still looking for the hooks that will stick for now. While I love triathlons, and will do one or two this year, I need a different simpler goal. I have my eye on the 13k Surly Trail Loppet. Mostly because of the beer, and the beautiful trail.

I’m scared to register. I am nervous that I can only disappoint myself.
I have such strong memories of cross-country racing in school. I cherish what committed, dedicated racing taught me. I vividly remember what it was to harness all my personal strength and power to race at my limits. To enter such a similar challenge 12 years, and two foot surgeries later, I fear being discouraged before I start. I want a homecoming where I can recapture my love of running on trails. At the same time I am intimidated by the shadow of my former self. I am not that runner anymore. Can I still tap this particular well of power and joy even if it’s not at the same level?

Tell me I’m not alone. Do we all have secret goals that seem too scary to approach? Are there parts of your past self that you’re not sure if they are still there?

The easy way out is to register and expect NOTHING of myself. To throw up my hands, say “meh, I can’t do what I once did.” Do wishy-washy training and a “just for fun” race which for me translates into “I’m not really trying, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Half-hearted training

my halfhearted training, soooo inspired.

I already know how deeply ungratifying that would be.  At least there would be beer at the end.  That’s fairly gratifying.

A “just for fun” race is fun – type 1.  Type 1 is fun the whole time. It is never so hard you question if it qualifies as fun.  I love playful, low-key, no pressure, fun races.  I guess that’s not really what I’m looking for right now.

This is where I should whip out my new found yogic wisdom.  The practice of yoga is not rooted not in the postures but in the philosophical Sanskrit teachings.
Ah-ha!  Look at my non-attachment to my past (Aparigraha).  Watch me not beat myself up over the struggle (Ahimsa).  See my contentment with  this phase of my life (Santosha).

Ta-da!  It’s magic! All I ever needed was to click my ruby slippers three times and simultaneously draw strength from my past, be inspired for the future, and be present in the moment.  It’s like yoga/zen time travel.

Me in my moment of zen.

There is hope.  This can be fun and gratifying.  It can be Type 2 fun– where there is just enough misery to be memorable but not so much that it’s not even fun to recall.

My personal deadline is June 15 (the next price increase) and then I need to commit to something. Last week I ran three times. It’s a start.

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4 Responses to Crawling Back On

  1. Carol Oosterhuis says:

    You are not alone… I had goals for the summer and keep reminding myself that I have goals, but I need to take steps to get there.

  2. Pingback: Exceeding Her Own Expectations | 365 Days of Thank You

  3. summerjhb says:

    Kym, some interesting things you have brought up in this post have me ruminating. I am fascinated by the connection between yoga and race culture. So, at the risk of being long-winded and tangential, I will say a few things….

    Firstly, this concept of “fun”. Fun is a problematic word, and it seems that you have a multi-faceted relationship with fun when it comes to racing. I think that when people talk about “doing a race for fun,” there is some confusion between pleasure and contentment. Pleasure is fleeting but is also one of the pillars of life (meaning it is an essential ingredient if we want to be healthy, happy and vibrant). Let’s face it, most of us take things much too seriously or, we binge on pleasure and it wears down our energy and sense of focus. Contentment is deeper. Contentment describes actions and feelings that align with one’s sense of purpose. To me, a belief that I am not my body (I have a body), I am not my mind (I have a mind) and I am not my emotions (I have emotions) makes possible this sense of purpose because it suggests that I am more than just the sum of my parts, I am connected to the greater whole. At the core of Yoga is this concept of universality. For some, racing may feel more fun and more content if it is in some way in fulfillment of a purpose (great or small). Then they can show up at the starting line as authentically and as present as possible, with little attachment to the past or future. Contentment (and fun) are about “being” rather than “becoming”.

    Secondly, I can’t help but think that your comments about integrating yoga philosophy into your current exercise routine sound a little thin. I think it’s hard to bridge the gap between learning a concept from an ancient scripture and thinking about how it actually applies to one’s life. When I embraced a practice of bringing my yoga off the mat, that is when it truly started to change my life and awaken me to new levels of sensitivity, awareness and not taking things so personally. That gap can be wide and the practice never goes away, it just gets more familiar. In yoga we use the body as a starting point for practicing non-attachment, contentment, etc… It started with my body, not my mind. And that’s why it was so transformational. It certainly is NOT magic. And it is Not easy. Meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn whose book, “Wherever You Go, There You Are” which first inspired me to start meditating, says that “meditation is… [and in this case I am considering yoga a meditative practice] the simplest of all activities, but also the hardest work in the world. So true!

    One of the things that I appreciate the most about yoga is that it has shown me how it feels to be centered. When I know where my center is, it is easier to identify when I have been thrown off center. And I have tools to realign myself (asana, pranayama, meditation). I no longer compete regularly in athletics, but I am willing to guess that racing from one’s center is fun and fulfilling. I find it hard sometimes to identify if my lack of motivation about things is due to un-centeredness or just laziness. The difference for me is that finding one’s center feels less like pushing and more like surrendering to the momentum of my intention.

    But you’ve missed the most relevant of the Niyamas (observances)….Tapas! (discipline.) And it sounds like that is the one you are struggling with. I am currently reading a book about the neurology of will power. They argue that mediation (again I would consider yoga to be a meditative practice) is one of the best things you can do to develop will power. If you think about it, to meditate is to be in a constant state of exercising will power. There is a point of focus (breath, sound, body, mantra, balance, whatever) and as the mind wanders, you invite it back to that point of focus. Over and over and over again. Tapas brings you back to your center and bridges the gap between intention and action.

    Sorry about the rambling comment. Good luck getting those inner flames of tapas burning. Thanks for the food for thought!

    • Kym Zest says:

      Woah, that’s a lot of thoughts, impressive. I feel like I hardly can wrap my mind around my own, so I’m sure I’ve not begun to fully digest yours.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it (and thanks for your pre-publish feedback)! I’ll attempt to respond now or there’s the very real possibility that I never will and I feel I your comment deserves the honor of a response.

      The concept of Type I, Type II and Type III fun is stolen from mountaineering, and I didn’t invent it. It mimics the classification used for grading the level of challenge (and danger) in scaling the earth’s peaks. I use it a lot with myself and my clients. I feel that the fundamental realization is to differentiate between experiences that are “fun” yet fleeting, and the experiences that are “hard” yet building. At any point there may not be contentment or meditation or any sense of transformation. Often in the moment, and sometimes for years after it still feels like nothing but a struggle. So far, I have always eventually found it worthwhile.

      My yoga integration *is* thin. Partially because I am still a yoga baby. Also because it was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. Nothing about living (I was going to say “living well” but heck, really any kind of living) is magic or easy. Of course it’s hard, and long, and there are no shortcuts. I didn’t miss discipline (Tapas) I chose to omit it. From where I stand it feels like an easy answer. Sometimes I find the seriousness of wisdom to be comical.

      Isn’t it just a little funny that it doesn’t matter where you are in finding wisdom (or fitness) it will still sometimes be hard? I feel fairly certain 9 out of 10 historical gurus would agree. I hope they too would laugh and poke fun at their own personal struggles. But perhaps I have misjudged my audience, or my ability to write humor.

      Thanks for all the poking!

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