Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brick Wall

The knee is still hurting, so I am still NOT running. This rest that has been imposed on me is making me really grumpy. Where I used to be grumpy about getting up at 4:30 am to run, now I wake up at 4:30 am, and I get grumpy when I find out my knee is still hurting and I can't run. My life is IRONY.

So instead of running right now, I'm walking and cycling, and doing the Terminal Knee Extension exercises. I will be going to see a Chinese sinseh about my knee later. I'm going to keep working with this knee until it gets better, then I will start running again. Why? Because I'm that awesome.

The brick walls are there for a reason. Right? The brick walls are not there to keep us out, the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough.
- Randy Pausch

Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 | One Year Later

I feel almost cliche saying this - but so much have changed in a year. This time last year, I finally broke free of a toxic, co-dependent relationship that would later spring more surprises. But it was the first step to having my life back again. What kind of relationship is it, when your partner is angry and resent you for trying to find some joy in your life?

It was painful, as most break-ups are - but the most painful part was what the other party did for revenge, and knowing you have no power over someone else's choices. You are only responsible for your own choices.

Why is it so hard for us to extricate ourselves from situations that are not healthy for us? It took me so long before I could say to myself, "Things need to change."

I thought I wanted some people in my life - but last year has been one where people fell out of my life. I lost one of my best friends; her choice to cut me out of her life again. I would love to be able to keep her in my life - yet after one year, I wasn't any worse for wear without her. Heartbreak, no matter how painful, will not kill you unless you choose to let it.

Sometimes we are just addicted to pain, and drama.

It is strange and also heartaching, to realise that you could still feel for someone who chose to close their hearts to you. This too is a choice - not to close your heart to people.

Attachment is the very opposite of love. Love says, 'I want you to be happy.' Attachment says, 'I want you to make me happy.'
- Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

I remember this quote from Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. It was one of those moments of awakening from last year, when I finally had enough clarity in my mind for understanding. I haven't loved truly. There was love there, but also mixed with the difficult and complicated feelings of insecurities and attachment.

Now, I can really say, "I want you to be happy."

I am in a good place right now. I am at peace, though I still have my struggles. I understand though, that struggles are part of life. Maybe that is where my peace comes from - finally accepting the struggles and being willing to work with them rather than fight them.

Why does this peace feels laced with sadness?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Missed Terry Fox Run

As of last night, I am still limping because of the pain in my left knee. As much as I hate it, I decided it was better if I skip the Terry Fox Run this morning. I'm not giving up on running, but it's obvious I need to strengthen up those knees before embarking on long runs.

Assignment for now will be research - Running Anatomy.

I am such a geek.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Knee Still Aching

It's Thursday and my left knee doesn't seem to be healing as fast I would like. I'm getting a little worried actually. I don't want to miss the Terry Fox Run. The student of dharma in me knows I need to let go of trying to control the situation. But I am human. I am afraid that if I don't show up this Sunday, it's as good as admitting defeat. I don't like to surrender. Damn.

A Bad Knee and a 5K Run this Sunday

Confession: It has been about 3 days since my last run. I seem to have pulled something in my left knee during yoga class on Sunday. Well, it feels like a pull because it feels tight around the side of the knee. I'm getting a little worried, not because the knee is hurting, but because I have my first 5K run this coming Sunday. My priorities are silly sometimes.

Here's the T-shirt for the Terry Fox Run this Sunday:

I thought myself to start small. I am still building up my stamina for running. But while I know I am not a fast runner yet, I will finish. Even if I have to walk to the end.

I signed up for the run not because I felt I was ready, but because I know if I keep waiting for myself to be ready, I'm never going BE ready. Sometimes, you just have to just dive right in and do it. You just have to show up and do it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What is Really At Stake Lance Armstrong Goes Oprah

Former female world and Olympic cyclist Nicole Cooke retired from cycling because of the withdrawal of sponsorship due to the Lance Armstrong doping fiasco. I have been following the Lance Armstrong "confession" recently, and I admit I want to see what he has to say to Oprah of all people. It was obviously a calculated move. If what he wanted was a true confession, he could have done it any other way. When Lance Armstrong decide to go Oprah, hell, he meant it to be a show.

But this is not a post about Lance Armstrong. It is about Nicole Cooke, and everyone who was brought down by Lance Armstrong and his doping. I don't mean the people who also cheated and condoned - or even supported the doping. I need the people like Nicole Cooke who love cycling, who cycled clean, but had their careers ended because of the cheats in the sport. Nicole Cooke's retirement speech needs to be read in its entirety here. Do not support the people who cheated. Do not buy their books. Do not feed their fat pockets. Do not allow them to exploit their celebrity status for a tap on the wrist when what they have destroyed other innocent people's career. I do believe in forgiveness. But should someone who has destroyed the dreams of so many others be allowed to return to competition when he chose to cheat?

I have been robbed by drug cheats, but I am fortunate, I am here before you with more in my basket than the 12 year old dreamed of. But for many genuine people out there who do ride clean; people with morals, many of these people have had to leave the sport with nothing after a lifetime of hard work — some going through horrific financial turmoil. When Lance "cries" on Oprah later this week and she passes him a tissue, spare a thought for all of those genuine people who walked away with no reward – just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances.
- Nicole Cooke

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bought a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence Running Shoes

I have a confession: I bought a new pair of shoes today.

As my friends would ask, "Didn't you just bought a pair? The ones for your flat-feet?"

Yes, I did. But I didn't like how those pair look, and they were cushioned, and I love the way minimalist shoes feel. So I did some research online and decided on a pair of Brooks PureCadence for women.

Call it stubbornness, call it whatever. Yes, I was motivated to start running after reading Born to Run, so yes, I am a fan of minimalist running. (But isn't the simplicity of running part of its appeal?)

Maybe I just enjoy shopping (actually, I don't). But I do know how I feel about minimalist shoes. It feels comfortable. My feet enjoy that closer contact with the ground. The pair of Brooks Pure Cadence shoes have that minimalist feel but it also caters for the flat-footed, like myself. I know what the guy at the Running Lab told me that I need. But I also know we need to listen to how we feel.

Fact: I am flat-footed. A yoga teacher made me walk around for a bit one day in class, and he pointed out to me that I shuffle my feet when I walk. This means I don't get to exercise the muscles at the bottom of my feet, which is why I am flat-footed. I get the reason why I need motion control shoes - because of the risk of over-pronation due to my flat-foot. But - I also know keeping my feet all locked in by cushioning isn't going to help me work those sole muscles. The final decision is between me and my feet. I would like something with a low-drop.

I ran with my new shoes this evening, and it felt good. I have been trying to apply the ChiRunning technique to my own running form lately, but I am going to confess again (tonight is full of confessions) that I don't get a lot of it. So again, I am paying attention to how I feel when I run. Do my legs hurt when my feet land a certain way? What happens when I change my gait? This is one of those times when my yoga practice kicks in, and I just started paying attention to how my body ought to feel, about the alignment of my hips, my back, even how open my heart feels when I run. It's almost like doing yoga, just running. And it works, and it felt great - because running should feel natural. I will be sticking with these pair of shoes, and alternating them with my other shoes every week.

I leave with this quote from Born to Run:

“Vigil couldn't quite put his finger on it, but his gut kept telling him that there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding.” ― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

WoYoPracMo | Reading to Practice

I'm a reader. I find that it helps to read a little to remind myself why I practice, and why the practice matters. Right now I am going back to re-read Rolf Gates's "Meditations from the Mat" - although I am doing it slowly this time - taking in each passage day by day.

My practice several years ago has been about getting stronger, getting more flexible, more advance poses. I was practicing 5-6 times a week, and I did find myself getting more toned, more flexible, even managing headstands unsupported a few times for several counts. Things changed. Now my practice is more deliberate. I am no longer as strong, and I am okay with that.

What is Yoga for me?

So January 2013, WoYoPracMo: World Yoga Practice Month is back, but on Facebook. It's been a long journey back to yoga. My attitude to the practice has definitely shifted since about 4 years ago when I was practicing at least 5 to 6 times a week. I enjoyed the sense of structure and discipline. Most of all, I loved watching myself growing stronger and more flexible. It's fun to check out how toned your muscles have grown because of yoga. Yet, when I look back, it felt like a goal-oriented approach to the practice.

But I would not change it for anything else. I believe my practice then was what I needed. I believe if we allow it, our practice evolves as we evolve. But then again, I do not know what yoga is. Or at least, I have heard and read too many people defining what yoga is.

To all of that, all I can say is, this just like asking, "What is God?" You will get a million different answers, all of it true - because ultimately we see God through our own eyes. Look at how you see your God, and ask yourself what is it that you are seeking. That is the work you need to do.

Life came at me a few years back. I struggled with mental illness in the family, unemployment that lasted more than a year, loss, and heartbreak. I fell out of practice. I couldn't read anything because my attention span was so scattered I could not concentrate. I couldn't write, because I couldn't gather my thoughts enough to write. This blog has been neglected for so long. Yet I am back now. I am here once more. Writing, writing, writing.

I came back. I am back. I am thankful for everything that has come to pass to bring me to the edge, then tip me over. I am grateful for loss, and heartbreak, and challenges. I am grateful for yoga and the dharma - the two anchors in my life that have always work to bring me back when I was lost.

What is God? What is yoga?

Yoga, for me, is that practice that transforms you from within. You do the work, and then you step aside and allow it to do what it needs to do. It is dance, it is meditation, it is painting, it is sports, it is play. It is Everything. If it does not transform you, it is not yoga. It is subtle. If you allow it, it does what it needs to do, not what you want it to do.

I feel the result of not practicing the last few years. I have gained some weight. I am not as strong anymore. (I struggle with chaturanga these days) I am also not as flexible anymore. I am no longer able to go into some of the binds that I used to. Yet, I feel the practice more these days.

These changes in my own body has taught me humility, and a respect for the work I must do. My practice is no longer as goal-oriented anymore. While I would still like to be strong and flexible as I used to, the thought does not obsess me. I accept my body as it is now. I just ask that I do my best. I will take child's pose if I need to. I love my body. I love my life. And these days, when I do front bends, I take it as a bow. I am not sure who or what I am bowing to. Maybe it's a bow to myself, to the practice, to the one I still love in spite of all the heartaches.

I am doing the work now. I am allowing it to transform me.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

New Running Shoes for the Flat-Footed

I went to the local Running Lab for an analysis of my running and walking gait. I always knew I was flat-footed, which they confirmed. (D'uh). What I didn't really realize was that I walk with heel strikes but when I run, I do land with the front of my feet - which is actually ok.

The guy at the Running Lab recommended a pair of motion control shoes for my flat-foot. I went into the Running Lab wearing my Nike Free 3+, and I loved the mobility and comfort of the Nike Free series. The idea of having to switch to something more restrictive, with more "control" - just didn't sit well with me. As the guy at Running Lab remarked, "Change is difficult." Well, yeah. It's hard to give up comfort, especially when it's about your footwear.

But I tried a pair of ASICS GEL Foundation 11, and they fitted okay. These are recommended for wide-footed heavy over-pronators. I still don't believe I pronate, but hell, I'll try it out for a bit, see how it fee.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

CHALLENGE | #yogaeverydamnday

Once more, a challenge to do yoga every day for the month of January. A new year is a good time to invite new positive energy. Sign up on the Challenge Loop, or look out on Twitter: #yogaeverydamnday