Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter?

So, I guess Ultra-season has begun. At least that is what my facebook and twitter feeds are telling me. My initial gut reaction, of course, is, "Oh shit! I need to go out and start hammering my workouts."

A couple of weeks ago I tried this going up Mt. Baldy.  I thought to myself, "I feel pretty good today, I'm going to really go for a good time."And then I reached the ridge at about 9,000 ft covered in melty, post holing snow that made any efficient movement impossible, and I was sorely reminded that it is still winter.  Contrary to the summer-esque temperatures here in Southern California, it is still the middle of February, a month that, in other parts of the country, is characterized by the coldest most dismal grey days of the year. Although many Californians are touting the fact that they do not live in Boston right now, the people living in the more frigid parts of the country have something that we do not have: the inability to ignore the current season.  They are still forced to slow down, to sleep more, eat more, and enjoy a time of rest.  For us here in the West, paying attention to the slowness of winter is a much more difficult discipline.  Instead of walking out the front door and seeing or feeling winter with our bodies, we must find some other way to remind ourselves of its presence.  We are forced to pay homage to an invisible season, as if enacting an ancient tradition tied to a different time and place.

That being said, Ultra running season might have begun, but I think I am going to keep taking it a little slower.  That doesn't mean I wont be working hard, it just means that when given the choice to push myself to the limit or back off a little, I will choose the latter for the time being.  After all there is still snow on Baldy.

Weekly arbitrary stats:

Burritos consumed: 4
Number times I kicked a rock: ~ 20
Push ups: 35
Pieces of Pie: 5 (not including pizza)
See there is still snow.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

On Rituals and Practice

I remember the first time I returned to my parent's house after I moved out to go to college.  I woke to the sound of my mom clumsily washing pots and pans in the kitchen sink as she waited for the coffee to be ready.  Prior to this, I had some how completely ignored the habits of my mom each morning and/ or saw no significance to her actions each day, other than the fact that she insisted on vacuuming the house at 6:30 am (which, at the time, seemed like an ungodly hour to be doing anything other than sleeping). On this visit, I decided to get out of bed and see what she was doing, and for the first time noticed my mom's calculated practices and rituals:

-Wake up
-turn on the coffee pot
-wash the dishes and or vacuum
-sit down to read with her coffee in hand
-water the garden
-fix breakfast and lunch
-leave for work.

I was fascinated at her ability to commit to these tasks each day, all before heading off to work, and I was inspired and determined to create my own morning rituals when I returned to my college dorm room.  That inspiration lasted all of one day before I returned to previous ritual of sleeping-in as late as possible without being late to class.

Fast forward a number of years and there I am listening to Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder give an informal talk to promote a new book they had out, and I hear Wendell and Gary discuss the ideas of daily practice and how these rituals we enact each day can be, and are, means to practice living the best way we know how.

As I thought about these words I began to realize that I had already, myself ,without knowing, created my own daily rituals that I practiced each day in order to help create some sort of structure.  And so, I began to write down lists of theses rituals.


This is a list of practices that mostly created a healthy and productive day:
-Wake up
- Make Coffee
- Meditate
- Drink coffee and eat breakfast with Jess
- Get out of the house for a run or workout

Unfortunately this list often included other things that weren't always so productive:
-Social Media
- Email
-and a bunch of other computer related time wasting techniques...

There were also weekly lists:
- Tend to the garden
- Yoga
- Read
- Wash dishes
this list goes on and on.

And of course there are all of the running related weekly rituals:
- AMRC group run
- Tempo Run
- Weight Train
- Long Run
- Yoga
- etc.

With all of these lists on hand I had began to think why? Why do these things? Of course some of these are necessities, but what about all of the others? In the running community we are constantly trying to answer the question "Why do we run?" Perhaps the answer to this and the answer to the  "why?" of all the rest of my practices is simply because the practiced ritual helps to create some level of structure to my day to day life, and this structure provides the necessary friction for movement and change.  I found, through this exercise, that the noticed ritual, over the arbitrary habit, has a profound impact on one's ability to enact this change on the path toward being the best version of our selves, if this is indeed our endless goal. Thus, I run, garden, wash dishes, read, write, and whatever else merely as a means to practice my own life.


And now for the real reason for this post: I write all of this nonsense to say that I realize, just as in running, the consistency of my blog posts are indeed important to the success of me as a writer and of my blog.  Thus, I will try my best to have something written down here each week from here on out.  Sometimes it may have to do with mountains and running, sometimes it might not, but all of it will be something, all will be practice.

Cheers,

- E