Running Habits to Kick or Keep: ChiRunning & Lent
I'm not Catholic, but for almost 20 years now I've celebrated the forty days and forty nights of Lent. It's a time of year when some Christians give up something for forty days to represent the forty days before the Crucifixion when Jesus went into the desert and fought off the temptations of the Devil.
When I was growing up I used to really feel for the kids that had to give up something they liked to do, or liked to eat or whatever they were most attached to. I mean, geez… six weeks is a long time to go without. But, since I've adopted this practice as an adult, I have not only seen it's value, I actually look forward to it every year.
The "value" that I see, beyond any religious meaning, is that it simply presents an opportunity to either break an unhealthy habit or to build a new one. I've used it both ways, and I have to say, it's arguably one of the most effective practices I've ever seen. Every year I embark on what I call a "pragmatic ritual." I see it as a way to create or eliminate neural pathways, simple as that. The longer you do anything, the stronger the neural links responsible for doing it, become. Likewise, the less you do something, the weaker the neural pathways become, until they eventually dissolve. So, if you want to get rid of a habit, not doing it for forty days can give you significant leverage over it. If, on the other hand, you'd like to take on a new quality or learn a new way of being, you challenge yourself to do it "religiously" for forty days.
My three targets this year are giving up sugar, dairy… and being self-critical. But, I'm going to go about my third challenge in a slightly different way. Instead of trying to "give up" self-criticism (which we all know is near impossible), I want to build a habit that works in a positive direction. So, every time I catch myself being self-critical, I will stop what I'm doing and take the time to listen to the voice that's speaking. What is that part of me upset about? What's underneath that? What is it really trying to tell me? I want to build the habits of asking and listening.
I also see using the season of Lent as a great time for ChiRunners to sharpen their skills by approaching their running in a similar way. What habits do you have in your running that could be detrimental to your running health? And, which of these would you be willing to commit forty days, to breaking or altering in a positive direction? Do you heel strike; tighten your calves; hold tension in your neck and shoulders, breath shallowly, start off too fast? Take some time to look at what you could change. You could even ask a friend if there's something they see in your form that doesn't allow you to run as smoothly as you could. Whatever it is, practice the correction for 40 days in a row and you could significantly change, for the better, how you move your body forever.
So, if you want to take it on, the challenge is on the table… to come up with one thing in your running you'll work to improve, every day between February 18th and April 2nd. Good luck, and please let us all know what you pick, and don't wait for divine intervention (injury) to happen.