Off Leash

As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We put on armor; we used our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection – to be the person whom we long to be – we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen ~ Brene Brown

A month ago I met with a running coach for a stride/gait/arm analysis. On the drive to our meeting spot, I was filled with nerves. I was showing up to be observed. In a lot of ways, I had first date jitters. I am guilty of not always feeling confident about my running ability. I’ve hidden behind phrases such as Oh I’m not fast and I run slow as a way to protect myself. It’s easier to hide behind being slow than it is to boldly attack being fast. Would he think I was good enough to be a “runner”? As I got out of the car to introduce myself, I realized there was only one way this meeting would be successful. I had to be me. I had to run my run. I could meet with him and tell him all about my “slow” marathon, I could try to run out of my comfort zone so maybe he would think I am “fast”, but none of these scenarios would give me the end result I wanted. I want fine tuning of my running. I want growth in my running. I had to risk being slow and not good enough and every other possible form of feedback I had created in my head, so I could learn to be better.

Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable. Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there is no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness. ~Brene Brown

I’ve now worked with my coach for five running sessions. I still get nervous on the drive to the run, but being observed and getting feedback really isn’t so scary. Being open and willing to learn has given me comfort and confidence in my running. These runs have become my favorite run of the week.

In so many ways it feels like I’ve let go of the leash that has been keeping me restricted. It’s nice to run free. I’ve quit relying on a garmin to tell me how I’m doing (I haven’t even replaced my broken garmin. I’ve just been borrowing my husbands to track mileage since I don’t know how to take it off biking mode). I’ve let go of having a training plan written on paper. Instead I’m focusing on my hips, my arms, coiling, etc. I’m running by feel. At the end of a run, it is much more satisfying to finish feeling strong than it is to look for a number on a watch.

Mother's Day Run with Alex - off leash for the first time
Mother’s Day Run with Alex – off leash for the first time

Having a running coach has given me all the same things I love about practicing in a yoga studio versus practicing at home. I love practicing at home, but there is something special about being in a class with the right teacher. The simple touch of someone else can give space to your spine. It can allow you to breathe deeper into a pose. It brings attention to things I can’t observe – a wrinkled forehead, tense shoulders, twisting from the wrong place in my hips. Running with a coach has also allowed me to be so much more aware of my body – tucking my chest, relaxing the muscles in my butt, pulling my hips back. Being aware of all these small changes dramatically change how my body feels. This entire process has really allowed me to relax and let my runs come to me.

Getting there
Getting there

Running always hand delivers life lessons to me.When the things you do and the life you live constantly overlap each other, it’s a good indicator you’re heading in the right direction. I’m embracing this new path both in running and in living – a little less structured, a little less defined, more shining, and less shying away from feedback. I’m letting go of my leash.

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3 thoughts on “Off Leash

  1. This sounds amazing and like something I should really be doing, as well! How did you find your coach? Is it still going well? I’ve been trying to keep up the changes in my running form that my physical therapist told me to do, but I am really struggling with it, and I often feel awkward when I’m running. I’m still waiting for it to become easy again.

    1. My coach was referred to me from an long-time friend who ran for him in High School. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It’s seriously the best thing I’ve added to my routine. It’s no stress running. I just run what he tells me to run. I meet him first for a gait/stride/arm analysis (who knew arms are so important!). My hip has been off so my miles have been small. I can’t believe I actually ran 26 and now 5 is an accomplishment!

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