I had to miss last week's yoga class, so I was really looking forward to this week. I'll be honest, though - the last thing I want to do at 7:30 at night is leave the house and go workout. I'm so much more of a morning person, and I will generally do anything I can to avoid evening workouts. So even though I was looking forward to class last night, it was still a bit of an effort to convince myself it would be worth it.
But once I got there, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be worth it. Just walking into the room gave me a sense of calm and peacefulness. When we began the class, I was painfully aware of how tight and stiff all my muscles were after the morning's track workout, and couldn't wait to give them the TLC they so desperately needed.
As the class went on, I felt better and better. I was working, but also relaxing - this class is such a good combination of both the mental and physical aspects of yoga, it's amazing. All my muscles were loosening and stretching and lengthening, and the steady stream of chatter that resides in my brain was, if not completely gone, at least pushed to the background.
It was another wonderful class, and I walked out feeling loose and limber and refreshed. For me, yoga is one of those things that I don't know how much I need until I've actually done it and reaped the rewards.
There are three more classes in this series, and I fully intend to sign up again. I know this is making me a better runner, and I suspect it's improving my mood as well. It sounds all hokey and new-agey, but I really do leave class with a lighter heart and a happier frame of mind - two more great reasons to stick with it.
In the interest of being more mindful, I've also been trying to run without music more often lately, and I'm really finding some huge benefits to being more in tune with my body while I'm running. This is probably not news to a lot of people, but since I've been running with music for so long, it's kind of a revelation to me.
I don't think I'll ever swear off my iPod altogether, because I do still love the affect my favorite running songs have on me when I'm toughing it out on a long run or a big race effort. But the quiet has been really nice, and I think I'm going to opt for it more than I used to.
And after reading this Runner's World article today, I'm even considering running the Jamestown half without music and - gasp! - without my Garmin! I have run a few races without my iPod, but I don't know that I've ever run a race without my Garmin. I'm really curious to try it, though. I think it would be an incredibly liberating experience - to just get out there and run, without checking splits or paces.
After my big efforts for Hartford and Gansett, I kind of feel like my running is undergoing a big shift - actually, a lot of big shifts. I'm making much more of an effort to run with other people, instead of always going by myself, and really enjoying it. I'm also finding myself really drawn to helping other people start running, or improve their running.
I'm in no way certified to be an actual coach, but I'm certainly capable of helping and supporting a friend who's working through the Couch to 5K program (in awe of the fact that she's doing so while running with her two kids in a double jogging stroller!!!), helping another friend PR at a half-marathon, and setting up a running club for a group of elementary school kids.
Those are all things that, a few years ago, I never would have imagined myself doing. But now that I'm doing them, I'm finding that it's bringing me just as much enjoyment and satisfaction as chasing down my own personal goals. And I'm finding myself thinking more and more about how I might someday be able to turn this little hobby of mine into a job of some sort.
That's much more of a long-term goal, but I do feel like all the things I'm doing now are a good way for me to figure out if that is something I really want to do, and if it is, I'm getting in some good practice - and having fun doing it!
Last year, I thought that qualifying for Gansett and Boston were the two ultimate running goals for me, and I also thought it would take me longer to achieve those goals, so I didn't really have much planned beyond that.
But now I've checked both of those items off my bucket list, and although I do have plenty of other goals I'm working on with my own running, I'm having just as much fun with all these other endeavors. I'm learning a lot, feeling very rewarded and inspired, and gaining a great sense of balance. It's all good : )