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Being and Doing

 

As I lace up my running shoes, I let out a long, drawn out yawn. I feel tired from the previous week of training. I am about to meet up with my training partner, Anne Shadle. I am secretly hoping she’ll agree to running slow today.

 

I tell Anne my plan to run slow. In her I-can’t-take-you-anywhere-outfit, she says, “let’s start out slow and see how it goes.” Somehow we both know that this means we are running fast, today. Our first mile was 7:10 and before long we were clicking off 6:30 miles.

 

I started babbling about how I am enjoying this uncomfortable pace because sometimes we need to feel uncomfortable, first, in order to feel comfortable, later. Anne nods in agreement (well sort of). After a few minutes she tells me to listen to the sound of my shoes as they land on the dirt path and to feel the cool air as it washes against my face.

I’m about to say, “Anne, why are you blowing smoke up my…” when I’m immediately distracted by flow. Flow is the merging of action (doing) and awareness (being). Flow happens when there is a perfect balance between a challenging, yet attainable, task. It’s the ultimate mind and body relationship (Hummm… Anne has a really good point).

 

Athletes love to do

 

The doing is action-oriented and future-focused. When you have a problem, what do you do? You solve it. About 2 miles into my run my body was screaming at me I’M TIRED! My instinct was to solve what my body was telling me (the doing). I relaxed my arms, and then my face (action-oriented). I thought about the relief that I’d feel when I was done (future-focused). But just as Anne had pointed out, earlier, I wasn’t listening to what underlies the process (the being).

 

Athletes need to be

 

Learning to be engaged in the present moment is a behavior that can be taught. The being means letting go of the past and future and focusing on the now. I started my run focused on wanting to go slow and wanting to feel comfortable, but as the run progressed, Anne challenged me to connect with the present moment. It worked. I felt an immediate sense of joy and relief.

 

How to mesh what we love with what we need

 

Flow is merging the doing with the being. After the run, Anne and I reflected on how it went (What? We’re researchers. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves). Anne tells me that uncomfortableness needs to become our routine — something that we come to expect and embrace each day. Once you start to feel comfortable with uncomfortableness, then you can establish a new level of uncomfortableness. It’s within these new levels that success happens.

 

Imagine layers upon layers. There layers are your goals. The higher the goal the greater the discomfort (y-axis). Also, the time in which a goal is accomplished is unknown (x-axis). The only thing that is know is what each layer is made up of — the building blocks that get you from one layer to the next.



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Now, imagine each level is packed with little blue and red blocks that fit together like a puzzle. They are not stacked on top of each other, nor are they sitting side by side each other. Rather they work together in a system, each drawing upon the other for energy. The blue blocks are the doing where thoughts, actions and feelings take place. And the red blocks are the being where your mindfulness, presence, and consciousness hang out.

 

If you’re like me, then you probably have more than one goal going at a time. The path to accomplishing these goals takes time, patience, perseverance, trust, but most importantly, it takes being and doing. I’ll end with this…

 

“The best way to be is to do” – Lao Tzu, Ancient Chinese philosopher.

 

Thanks for reading

Making Moves

 

It is Monday afternoon, a workday. The weekend is over. I am sitting in a coffee shop. The chatter of people around me is soothing. Put me in a library and I am distracted by the eerie quite, but put me in a coffee shop and the background noise allows me to focus. I can get lost in my work. A coffee shop is where I wrote my 350-page dissertation. I would arrive around 7:30 in the morning and stay until lunchtime when I would go for a run. Then I would come back around 2:00 in the afternoon and stay just past dinnertime.

In all the moments that I found myself in a coffee shop, writing, I only became distracted once, and that was to watch the Boston marathon. Immediately following the finish I was inspired, no propelled, to go for a run. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done that day.

Here I am again, in a coffee shop, where I do my best thinking and writing. I am writing to you about what’s next for me. My last blog outlined my experience as a free agent. Although I am mostly optimistic and excited about what’s ahead, I am also nervous with anticipation. All this anxiety makes me ask irrational questions that I don’t know the answers to like “What does my future hold?” and “What place is the best place?”

I have known about my situation for about 3 months, which left me actively searching for a new coach for about 2 months. I called everyone I knew for advice that I wasn’t going to follow. “What would you do if you were me?” I would plead. I learned that people have strong opinions. Even though I knew I wasn’t going to follow any one person’s advice, I wanted to know their ideas, thoughts, and opportunities. I wanted to know the criteria they would use to make a decision. Talking to people is the best way I solve problems. So I talked.

Word got out that I was searching for a new place to train. I was blessed with some amazing opportunities. I found myself in the best scenario possible. Every team, coach, and track was a good option. But this also made the decision one of the more challenging decisions I have ever had to make. Fortunately, I was not alone in the decision process. Every thought about what I was going to do next year was filtered through Daniel. Although I didn’t think it was possible, I fell in love with Daniel even more throughout the process.

I’m moving to California. No, I am moving to Texas. No, I am staying in Eugene. I tried to imagine myself in each place. I listened to my feelings. I created a 15-column spread sheet. Then I distracted myself. I jumped off cliffs. I swam in lakes. I went on epic road trips. Ultimately, I told myself that sometimes you just have to take risks and figure it out on the way down.

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So here it is, my risk. I am moving from one OTC to another. I will be training in Chula Vista with Joaquim Cruz and his team at the Olympic Training Center. Eugene will always have a piece of my heart, which makes the move even harder. I am thankful for the support and hospitality of the Eugene community, and can’t wait to be back competing at Hayward Field. I do not know what the future holds but I am looking forward to finding my stride in San Diego.

Thanks for reading!