I have been thinking about something lately and it has had quite an impact on my training and personal outlook. I was able to run at a steady pace for 3.58 miles without any breaks. Now you may say big deal, lots of people do that and even more every day. True, nothing really special there except for the fact that I have not run in years. The last time that I did I could barely do half a mile continuously without stopping to catch my breath or grab my side from a cramp.
I have not done any training that I believe would be considered conditioning for the purpose of running. I have not been jogging little distances or working in heavy cardio with a jump rope or anything like that (not that those are not great ideas!). Perhaps listening to Sensei talk about different aspects of health for the last year has made a significant impact on how I want to live my life and for that I cannot thank him enough.
The first step was when I started regularly stretching properly again with the warm-up exercises we do before class (I also do them regularly throughout the week). This step here cannot be over emphasized, along with gaining flexibility each time we stretch we are also bringing blood to various parts of the body that may not get it at regular intervals (depending on a person’s lifestyle). Parts of our tissues may have higher levels of metabolic waste due to their location further away from the heart or main arteries. (This can become compounded with a sedentary lifestyle). Slow deep stretching (not bouncing) would have the greatest effect in capillaries within muscle tissues. Stretching those areas will help blood to circulate and remove metabolic byproducts more efficiently allowing the tissues to be healthier overall with reduced degradation and damage. Now I believe that this is a major factor to preventing long-term health problems and when you combine that with the benefits of warming up your muscles and lubricating your joints, how can you afford not to stretch?
I have also changed my diet significantly from what it used to be I no longer take for granted being able to slide by on unbalanced meals. I meet or exceed all the recommended portions of daily fruits and veggies. This is possible through daily juicing and smoothies, which have increased my energy and allowed me to shed pounds. Many vital nutrients as well as high doses of antioxidants are taken in this way and I feel the difference when pushing myself harder on the mat or while running.
The other major factor that I believe has helped me in my running is aikido. Specifically it has helped out in my breathing. When I first started to run again I didn’t focus on breathing. What I mean by this is I didn’t set my mind to control by breathing. I didn’t force it. I felt myself relax and naturally let a rhythm develop on its own pace. This natural breathing rhythm that developed with my running pace allowed me to stay relaxed the whole time. I think I now understand what Bruce Lee says in his notes that running became a form of meditation for him. When I first read that I thought he was nuts! I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how someone would say that especially since every time I used to do it I was never relaxed nor could I ever get enough oxygen. I was usually a wreck when trying to run. Now that I am more relaxed my mind is settled and I can just enjoy the scenery.
As it has been brought up in several of our after training discussions everyone has the potential to improve their lives and keep themselves from several of the common health problems plaguing much of our society. I don’t view this blog as an ego boost or such but as hopefully a potential bit of encouragement that will ignite someone to make the change they want in their life. So this next weekend instead of saying I am going to start changing things get out and actually do it!
Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin is conducting regular classes in Las Vegas on Mondays and Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 pm
The home dojo is located near the South Point Casino and Iwama Aikido is the style practiced. If you live in the area or are a visitor and would like to stop by you may contact us as described below:
- Go to the following link: http://www.aikidojournal.com/askaway
- Select the “Aikido Training in Las Vegas” topic from the drop-down menu
- Write a brief resume of your aikido training background, if any, describe your training goals, mention the area of town you live in, and provide an email and contact telephone number. We will contact each interested person and arrange a meeting to go over our training plans and answer any questions you might have.