Running is medicine. There's the cardio, long term health, weight loss piece that's really important but the thing I'm talking about is another kind of medicine. Life is full of challenges. There are always these moments that push you toward breaking, or at least questioning whether you know what you're doing, and whether or not what you're doing is right. Any big decision or long commitment, long term challenge or set of obstacles while seeking a worthy goal will, in cyclic fashion bring you into confrontation with yourself. How we deal with those obstacles shows us the level of our commitment, reveals to us who and what we are and of course helps us see the true value of the goals or commitments themselves.
The running medicine is the perspective and the cure for the acute stress of these moments. I like to imagine this when I'm running: My blood is coursing through my heart picking up oxygen to deliver to muscles, it's picking up waste from all of my body's tissues, from my brain and running it through its processing and waste disposal systems. My mind, my body via the blood, and my spirit are cleansed. Picturing this when I'm running keeps me focused on why I do it. For me it's a self improvement project, and perspective and spiritual house keeping are part of that. It happens in a gushing fluid rhythmic flow.
I was sitting in class today trying to listen to a lecture on cheese fermentation starter cultures and all I could think about was the fact that the room was filling up with air that had come out of the peoples' lungs around me. The CO2 that came from their exhalations had literally moments before been pushed out of cells deep inside their tissues. The moisture and gasses in that room were part of them and their metabolic processes. It's not just inhaling air that other have exhaled, it's inhaling byproducts of their cellular gas exchange systems. That is a pretty intimate exchange of fluids that is rarely noticed.
Running medicine helps me process my blood, my thoughts and my stresses. The familiarity of the activity is reassuring, the way my body drops into its rhythm and settles in to the task feels to me the way my mom used to talk about going to church. She wasn't a believer but she went for a sense of familiarity. Establishing the routine and trusting your body to do its job has a primal quality to it. It reaches back into the distant evolutionary memory of the biological organism and lets the body process and flow, trumping the mind's capacity to unleash the chemical responses to stress. They are all swept away in the tidal current of blood flow and cleansed completely.
There are days where reestablishing flow is just a really important thing to do and I'm glad I am able to get there by running it out. I'll bet you can too.