28 days of walking: day 11

This morning my walk turned into a run.

What?! Run?? I haven’t run in a very long time. And morning?? I am definitely not a morning person. Especially not a morning activity person. I’m more of a read/write/take-it-easy in the morning, build-momentum-through-the-day, and stay-up-until-3am kind of person.

Put those together, and you might guess (correctly) that in those times of my life when I have run more regularly, it was certainly not in the morning.

fancy shoesBut this morning, I decided to walk earlier in the day than usual. And then I thought about my purple running shoes, which I love. And so I put them on “just in case” and headed (very noncommittally) in the general direction of a nearby track. And then suddenly I was running to the track. And then I was on the track. And then, well, if you’re on a track and you’re wearing fancy running shoes, you kind of don’t have any other option than to run at least every now and then as you move yourself past the numbers, in the lanes that are throwing you back to gym class and presidential award days in elementary school.

Now, before any of you get all excited about my “running,” let me clarify that it was more like

run
walk
run
walk
run
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
walk
run
walk

But.

trackThere were moments I was running.

And through the whole process, I was paying attention. I was prepared to run (I had on shoes that make running easier), so I could run when my body said, “Okay, now!” But I also was fine with walking when I felt that old, familiar nausea I get when I run, especially when I run in the mornings. I didn’t push.

And this is one of the most important lessons I’ve been learning (continuing to learn, to learn) from practicing the Feldenkrais Method.

Listen to myself. Be prepared, and say yes when the time is right, but also say no when I need to. I really will go further that way, as counter-intuitive as it might seem.

Because I was tuning into this new experience of running, I was paying more attention when I was walking as well. I noticed that my fingers and hands were getting tense, so I checked in with my shoulders. And curiously enough (as is often the case, I’ve found), when I started experimenting with different ways to walk on my feet (roll through the outer toe, roll through the inner toe, exaggerate my right leg carrying my weight and then my left, feel whether or not my spine was involved, my ribs moving with my breath, my head free enough to move with every step and not just every other step…), I suddenly realized that my hands had relaxed – even though (or quite possibly because) I had noticed them, then shifted my attention away from them to something seemingly unrelated, then checked back in. Feldenkrais practice is kind of amazing like that.

One benefit to walking on a Saturday morning is that not many other people were out. So I could do my weird walking experiments and not feel too self-conscious (I don’t tend to worry about those things much anyway, but still). I could freely explore what was working and what wasn’t, even when it made my walk “look funny” so I could get some useful information.

blue arrowBy exploring and playing and resting (ie, walking guilt-free when I needed to), I was able to run a bit more after I thought I was done for the day, and my ankle hurt less that time, and my breath was just a bit more free, and my hands didn’t clench up, and I maybe even enjoyed it just for a moment.

And then I went back to walking, because I could.

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