Sunday, July 24, 2011

July 24: The Zen of Running Downhill

As I get older, running gets more challenging. There's always something that hurts, cellulite bounces on once-lean thighs, asthmatic lungs ache. I used to feel like a graceful thoroughbred when I ran, a race horse. For years I ran competitively, and it's hard to let go of that desire to go faster, to be in the lead. Now I feel like a plodding draft horse. But still I do it, still I love the forward motion, knowing that my body parts all still move, if a little less smoothly than they used to.

While I'm slower and shorter of breath now, I try to retain good form. Even when I'm struggling, at least I can still look like I know what I'm doing. The thing I was always best at was running down hills. When I was in 7th grade a coach taught me how to run downhill as a strategy--how to just let go and not resist the forward momentum. If you don't hold back, you go faster. Most runners leaned back on the downhills, trying to stay in control, and that's where I would pass them.

On my current running route, there's a long downhill just before I turn back onto my street to head into the "home stretch." That's when I feel my best, just letting go, letting my legs carry me down the hill, for a moment feeling like I did back in 7th grade: invincible. Those are the moments that keep me going.

How to run downhill:
"let all go dear so comes love"
Nothing else matters.

*Line 2 from a poem by e. e. cummings that begins "Let it go..."

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