Friday, May 16, 2008

Lengthen Your Stride

Today was supposed to be the fathers and sons outing, but Taylor has been acting sick all day, and I was not about to take a miserable little boy out to West Canyon with his more than overly active older brother. I can just see Taylor not letting me set him down because it is cold and it smells like camp fire, while Brady is running like a scolded cat through the underbrush. Not good times. So while Heidi had "grills" night down stairs, I took the boys upstairs and we watched VeggieTales on the bed and ate cereal for dinner. It was great!

Once the boys went down for bed I felt like I probably still needed to leave the women to their own devices, so I threw on the running shoes and headed out the door at about ten to ten. It felt too late to run over to the local gym so I drifted up to the north side of town, heading over the over-pass and up toward the junior high. The ipod ran out of juice only 10 min in so I was left to the night noises and my own thoughts to keep me occupied. As I started up the slight grade to the junior high thinking "just one more block and I can turn back," I caught a rhythm and felt pretty good and decided to push it all the way up to the top of the climb and then make a decide. Even though I felt strong, my whopping nine inch steps were not taking me anywhere really fast. It felt good to be out. I was enjoying the cool night so I soldered on

Suddenly there was a car waiting for me to cross an intersection before it could pull through and so I took a few longer steps to move things along. Wow what a pace change. as I focused on my stride; putting my heel down first, out in front of me; I found that I was moving pretty quickly but without a significant increase in effort. In fact I had to breath more often because each step was happening much slower, but I was moving much faster. President Kimball's image flashed in my mind. The strange part was that it felt so unnatural even though it was more efficient. I found that I had to focus mentally or I would slip back to my traditional mini steps. So, Lengthen your stride was not about putting forth some huge new physical effort (as I had once supposed,) it was about making the present physical effort more efficient through focus and mental effort.

About this time I was reaching the top of the hill, and rounding the corner I entered a path into the cemetery. As I descended on the narrow road of the cemetery paths, the oddly illuminated headstones were a bit unnerving. Many people had put solar powered lights of every color at the markers of their loved ones. Then I noticed the (almost) full moon and thought about how this embodied all of the child hood stories of ghouls and goblins. At the same time, it was serene and peaceful.

I started talking to Dad. It was a bit of a one sided conversation. I started by chastising him for never helping me understand "lengthen your stride!" I called up images of Dad running, his Olympic trials, the many times that I found him departing or returning from a run so calm and poised. He had such a beautiful long stride. Compared to my stubby little stuttering pace he was covering huge tracts of land with each step. I realised that after some time that, with focus on that long efficient stride, it became natural to him, something that he did with no conscious effort. So this was not a principle just of moving mountains in a moment of focused mental effort, but a principle of long term improvement. Again, I chastised him a little for not teaching me this sooner, and then thanked him for the example that helped me understand. I let out a laugh (OK more of a forced gasp) as I thought of him looking down saying "well I never thought I would see him running...except maybe away from something big and hairy."

As I finally slipped around the final corner and started walking to cool down, again I felt at peace. What a great night, I got to spend time with the boys, time with Dad, and a little time alone with my thoughts.

I need to lengthen my stride a little more hear and post more often. We'll see how that effort goes.

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