Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marathon Training Lesson #4: Smiling goes a long way

This morning I threw on my running shoes and hit the trail early. The air held the promise of a beautiful day and with the light breeze and cool temperatures, I was eager to take this body of mine out for a spin to see what it could do.

When I run, I don't listen to music, preferring instead to take in the sounds around me: snippets of conversations between old friends, various tones of bicycle chimes, dogs barking, hawks screeching. I start wondering about all these lives and what motivates them to get on the trail that early on a Saturday morning. It gives me something to ponder as the miles stretch out before me.

About half way through my run, I noticed an older man, probably late 60s/early 70s, chugging along on the trail. My first thought was "bully for you!" but what affected me long after we passed each other was his huge smile. Here was someone running with a genuine smile! Runners don't always look happy to me, especially as the conditions worsen and pain kicks in, but this guy clearly knew bliss.

I wondered to myself what would happen if I finished my run in imitation of him?

Answer? An even better run!

A yoga teacher once told me that sometimes the hardest thing to do in a challenging moment is to pull the corners of your mouth up into a smile. And, if you could do that one small thing, you'd find you'd feel better within seconds. He was telling the truth. Marathons are certainly challenging, as are all the months of preparation, so I took the tip from my joyful messenger, smiled and grinned the rest of my way through the run. I was surprised to learn that I finished it faster and with more energy than past runs.

Lesson learned! Smile. Smile often on the running trail...on the life trail. It sure makes the journey a heck of a lot more exciting and felicitous.

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