Taking 2 Steps Back(wards)
Every June here in sunny San Diego, thousands of people wake at the crack of dawn and run 26.2 miles; a race known to locals as The Rock n Roll Marathon. While the biggest concern of the non running community is how to avoid the 163 while going to the beach, the runners are packing their race bags, getting race tags, and visualizing their success.
Some run the race in an impressive 2 hours, some take there sweet time, enjoying all the excitement. And then there are those who wear costumes...and even run the race backwards. Yes, backwards.
Now, the first time I heard this, i thought, what kind of loon runs 26.2 miles BACKWARDS! I can't even stand to run more than 5 miles (yaaaawn), let alone backwards!
Perhaps as a protective coping mechanism, I began to think of the logical reasons a person would run backwards. After amusing myself with all the illogical reasons (having a backwards equilibrium, being born with quadriceps for hamstrings, avoiding conversation with strangers), the most logical reason I could think of was utilizing the principle of change. Using different range of motion and different muscles than we normally do gives our body a change to recover from normal activity, and challenges it in a new way.
So as soon as I recognized the value of this strange activity, I started incorporating it into my exercise routine. Not 26.2 miles, but say, a few sets of 100 feet every couple of weeks or so.
But I don't write today to shed light on the physiological benefits of changing our workout routines, but the abstract benefit of trying things in a new, unfamiliar way.
During my cool down after a lovely morning run at Mission Trails, I started walking backwards the last uphill stretch. I thought what an awkward feeling. I actually have to concentrate on how to do this. I wonder what things in my life are backwards? What things are caddywompus on my priority list? If I flipped them around, would it not feel like walking backwards? Awkward, yet strangely refreshing?
So the question I charge you with today, is, what things have you been neglecting? Chances are, this is not a new concept; we are all usually aware of what we want to do, yet cannot seem to muster up the courage or effort to do. Maybe you work too much, read too little. Maybe you participate too little, and let others speak things over you. What stands out to you?
Once you have a little list (yes, write it down!...I'll wait....), ask yourself, What are the consequences of changing this? There are consequences to everything, good and bad. With every change of season, there is always death of the old season, never to return in the original. What will die, and what will be birthed?
A note of encouragement: This is not an exercise to give yourself permission to punish yourself for not following through with changes you would like to make. Humans are not machines; we are never the same at any given second, our life stages and self-awareness are ever-changing and there is not a repeatable scientific method for you to change. Perhaps this is the 2nd, or 20th time you have revisited whatever neglected issue has come to mind, but just because you are not at your desired end-product does not mean you are failing.
How ready are you to take action? Be honest with yourself. It's okay that you are not your Ideal Self today. It's okay to say "I don't think I am really ready to commit to going to the gym." If you find that you are not ready to take action, spend some time each week with the questions above.