Friday, December 2, 2011

My Time

I don't think I ever realised it before but I've always felt guilty about taking time for exercise.  Perhaps it's just the work ethic that we grow up with - brainwashing us into thinking that if it doesn't earn money or improve our social standing then it can't be something productive or worthwhile. With currently 33.8% of American adults obese (and the UK close behind), I can't think of anything more useful and relevant today than making time for exercise.

Blobbing Out
At school the physical education periods were the one thing I genuinely looked forward to during the week. I can't ever remember once looking forward to any other class. School was prison to me and the only opportunity to avoid the unnatural obligation of sitting all day at a desk was PE. This was just too enjoyable to be considered as work so I guess that is where the guilt creeps in. Education as usual gets all of its priorities wrong. If it didn't then we wouldn't have 33% of the population blobbing out of control.

Working out as little as an hour per day on average really sets up your body to fight fat and keep the cardiovascular system top notch. The problem is that if you see this as a chore then it won't last. If training is one day perceived as a pleasure then it almost guarantees that on a tough day it is perceived as a chore. This inconsistency leads only to further inconsistency and eventually the training slips away and before you know it all the fitness has gone and the fat has returned.

My Time
Training time is not a chore and it's not a pleasure - those are just different sensations that we can have. Training time is very special, the most important time of the day - it is "My Time" - not a time to feel guilty. You focus your thoughts, clear the endless chatter out of your head and re-focus your thoughts again, and again. It's communication with your body, an internal dialogue that concerns only the present. "My Time" is time spent living fully in the moment. You forget all financial, material, career, relationship and other distractions during this period. Stress dissipates and leaves your body and mind feeling free. Training must be carried out in a mindful way to achieve this - not directly goal oriented but fully involved in the process. Focusing on form and function leads to ever increasing awareness of the body - and in turn creating better focus. Mechanics, posture, breathing, tension, strength, power, range of movement and an amazing number specifics for each activity have to be observed each in turn. The mind is exercised and strengthened itself each time it is re-focused. Mental strength is built every bit as much as physical strength. Both mental and physical strength depend on strategy, skill and organisation - not just brute force. Those are the things that are valuable in life and they are inside us - not outside. "My Time" is the most important part of any day - it's not an option - it's a practice - consistently carried out through lows and highs, good and bad.

The Run
Today I focused on nasal breathing, keeping a slow pace and accurate form. It's harder to coordinate breathing when using the core muslces actively for running - especially when you breathe diaphragmatically. The feeling of power when the core is awake and functioning is a dramatic shift, but for me it's not fully automatic. As soon as I stop focusing on it I lose it.  That will change slowly over time. The nasal breathing helped to keep me slow - which is what I want until the legs have properly adapted to 10k "barefoot" style and there is no weakness or tiredness towards the end.

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