Saturday, September 24, 2011

Exercising options: another barefoot run insight for the wider view

Have you tried running barefoot yet? like really - no foot covering. unshod.

It's a revelatory experience, as per this four part chat about the topic with Dr. Mick Wilkinson, barefoot runner and researcher. interesting things happen when trying to achieve a quiet relaxed gait without footware.  But so do other things.

Some context: i'm midway through reading this awesome book by Frank Forencich of Exuberant Animal  called Change Your Body, Change Your World - will have more on this anon. In the early part of the book there's this great section on barefoot running.

Book, Change your Body, Change the WorldIt situates barefooting as a great way to connect with one's environment. What resonated for me in Forencich's discussion of barefooting is that one of it's biggest benefits is that one has to PAY ATTENTION.  In deed, this is how Forencich deals with the question that always comes up about running barefoot and the anticipation that one will come home with a foot pierced by shards of glass and riddled with virus infected needles. Won't that happen? Amazingly enough, no. Because when running barefoot we get to PAY ATTENTION.

And here's the take away for me today from my little barefoot jaunt. It's the fall right? ok it's hard to admit that it's here but the signs are everywhere apparent: the tree detritus all over the sidewalks of leaves, sticks, nuts rather suggests this is what's going on (though if you have ever lived in manitoba it seems that the acorns drop from the trees all year long to plant your yard with the toughest little suckers to dislodge ever - but i digress).

So it's fall. there's tree kack all over much of the pavement. and i'm thinking ya right Frank i am definitely paying attention. isn't it amazing how my bod is adapting to avoid crushing these half cracked nuts through the soles of my feet; my goodness one could run forever because my respiration is not particularly challenged at this tippy tappy exploratory pace.  Yup, foot's amazing - and the sole is particularly astounding.

Houston, we have OPTIONS And then - somehow - perhaps, don't know what happened but  i muast have relaxed a bit - because instead of focusing on the more cack ahead and where my next foot fall will be, i look up. just a bit. shifting from my big paying attention to where im treading.

And what happens? i see this whole area of road that has no crap on it. And it's coming up. And there's no traffic. It's early saturday morning in a quiet-ish area. And then it hits me (can you hear it coming?) i don't *have* to run through this crap like i would if i had shoes on - because i'd have shoes on. but i don't.

I don't have shoes on AND
i don't have to run like i do AND
i don't have to run where i would AND
i can deek! i can go lateral
dam it, i can run right down the middle of this road.

I am now running AROUND the crap - even faster than going THROUGH the crap.

I am a genius.

I am an idiot.

Oh come on that was just a little clever

Hey, i am having fun.

and this little tune starts to go through my head like some slightly odd sesame street lesson

I don't have to go through it; i can do something else. There are no rules here - that it's not a run if i don't stay on the shod path. Over and Under Around and Through....


Openning the Field of View = Feeling Safer = Better Performance
My feet are still not used to going all day running on the outside world so i would have liked to have gone off path more, but had to head home, and that was fine too.

So i'm reflecting:
sometimes i (and perhaps you, too, once in awhile) pay attention but to the narrow rather than the broad field of view.

From the direction in this space from z-health i've had, we do seem to know something about stress/fear/fatigue - that our peripheral vision starts to narrow - to support a very particular survival oriented focus.

Maybe my ability to look up a bit more when out for my jaunt just meant i was starting to feel a little safer unshod, and so could take in more of the ambient area of action - and that gave me some more choices.

Letting Go - Deliberate Practice of - in the weirdest places
Even more connections - some of you have heard me go on about the sedona method  and its perspective about letting go of "stuff" in order to get a wider perspective (here's the b2d overview). Well, maybe it's a sign - if we feel we can't let go, or more, perhaps like me this morning: if i don't even see that there is anything beyond this field of cack, i just don't know at some level i'm in a narrowly focused state of fear/stress.

We don't know what we're not seeing (there are tests). And i sure didn't see my happy run as a place where i needed to let go. But of course it was - cuz i'm learning a new skill and am both very focused on the skill rather than deploying it to enable me to reach higher and yes there's still some residual cringe around the bare-foot-as-needle-glass-nail-magnet in me.

So i'm gonna let myself off the hook a bit here.

Note to self: DO i remember to Look Up? Practice that
But it may just be if you find yourself in a situation where suddenly you get heh, i have options here i didn't know i had: congratulations to you. It may be your skill level at that thing you were doing just went autonomous enough for a moment to let you see a bit further and apply that skill to do something new. Or maybe some fear or stress calmed down.

It's a cool thing - to observe, explore and celebrate - observe that that openning happened, explore it deliberately and do a happy dance about what more is coming in on all sensory, emotional, intellectual and other channels.

To come back to Forencich, i got to keep paying attention, but to a wider field of view - to more of the environment - while still being aware of how i was contacting the ground beneath my feet. And Forenich's right: it's fun, and it feels great to connect, to attend better, more. Pay Attention doesn't have to be narrow - sure learning can be rather focused - and i guess that's how i've always thought about it: pay attention = serious/narrow band focus.

Today i think i got a sense that paying attention might also be a broader field of view, lighter, a bit more playful. Goodness that's nice. Maybe learning could be a bit more like that too and still work.

Hope you give that kind of connected attention a go - please leave a note if you do and let me know how it goes.

Meanwhile here's a little note about change your body change your world - it's certainly been changing my point of view.

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