I almost cheated on my orthopedist yesterday. It was completely premeditated. The reason I didn’t actually cheat was not because of any virtue on my part. I wanted to cheat, I was ready to cheat, then at the last minute, I didn’t cheat because a friend needed my company.
Let me explain. I am “technically” not supposed to run, on orders from my orthopedist, until I can stretch my leg so that it forms a 90-degree angle with my body. I am almost there. When I first started stretching, I could probably get to about 110 degrees; now I am at approximately 91 degrees. So close.
My hubby, trail running friend Al, and two other friends were meeting to run around a lake near our house, a five-mile loop, on Friday. The weather was warm, the sun was shining, the company was good, and I am so close to my goal, I decided I would run along with them. I reasoned I could walk if my hamstring injury began to hurt during the run.
We began our run at a slow pace, following the road that hugs the lake shore. After about eight or nine minutes, my friend Eileen slowed to a walk, holding her side. She had shoveled snow earlier in the week and strained a muscle near her ribs. Taking deep breaths caused by the exertion of running resulted in extreme discomfort.
We all walked for a few minutes, then the guys in the group began running ahead and circling back to us. I walked with Eileen for the rest of the loop. We wound up taking a shortcut that eliminated about half a mile from our normal course but the guys did the entire five-mile loop, plus a little bit extra from all that circling back to us walkers.
I didn’t mind walking with Eileen. In addition to preventing me from cheating on my orthopedist’s orders, it gave us the opportunity to catch up. Eileen, my first yoga instructor, hasn’t been running since she fractured vertebrae while cliff-diving during a yoga retreat in Mexico last year. She is now mounting a running comeback. Did I mention that Eileen will turn 70 this year?
In addition to being a phenomenal yogi, Eileen is a tremendous runner. When she was in her 50s, she decided to run her first marathon. The marathon she chose is listed in Runner’s World as one of the 10 toughest in the U.S. Eileen not only won the race (and collected $1000 in the bargain), she qualified for Boston as well.
Eileen teaches yoga and nutrition at a community college, follows a vegan lifestyle, and has traveled throughout the world. I am fortunate to consider her a friend. The characteristic that is most impressive about Eileen, however, is the intentional way she lives her life. She has a certain set of beliefs and lives in strict accordance with those convictions.
I, on the other hand, tend to be somewhat flighty, taking the easy way out of too many situations, choosing chocolate over apples all too often.
When we live intentionally, we know exactly why we make the choices that we do, and we make those choices according to a set of rules written on our heart. If we are momentarily unsure which direction to proceed in any given situation, intentionality induces us to pause and check those internal tenets, then make our decisions based on strict adherence to our inner guidelines.
Living intentionally requires a laser focus on making each moment matter. We don’t fritter our lives away with television, Facebook, or any of the other distractions that suck our moments away and send them swirling down the drain of time. Intentional living is what makes us KonMari our homes and do things the right way, rather than the easy way.
Each moment that passes us by is a moment that we never get back; time, of course, moves in only one direction. We are literally spending each second. Living intentionally imbues each of those moments with significance before they slip away forever.
Oh, I am a champ at introspection, but a dud at intentionality. I can look back at events that have already occurred and intuit their relevance. I have trouble looking ahead and foreseeing pitfalls. I am thoughtful; what I am not is disciplined.
It may seem counterintuitive for a distance runner to say “I am not disciplined,” but trust me on this, I know; there are many reasons why I run, but discipline is not one of them.
One characteristic both intentional and introspective individuals have in common is stillness. We have the need for quietude in order to reflect. Living lives of near-constant busyness and stimulation leaves no room for rumination. We must carve out a quiet niche of time for thought, meditation and/or prayer to receive insight.
I would like to bring more intentionality into my life, to walk in faithfulness, rather than busyness, to do things the right way, rather than the easy way, to choose the apple rather than the chocolate. I have some thoughts on how to go about doing this. One of them is scary, which makes it exceptionally appealing.
I am going to do a “Sundown Fast” each Friday during Lent. Each Friday from March 8 through April 19, I will not eat anything until sundown.
The reason for fasting is to bring intentionality to the forefront of my attention. The discomfort of hunger will serve to remind me of the quest for discipline. As a runner, I believe the axiom “train to your weakness.” One of my biggest weaknesses is patience or lack thereof. Fasting serves as a reminder of the need for patience.
Fasting prompts us to lean into a higher power, to build confidence through reliance on something bigger than ourselves. It is no coincidence that several religions advocate the use of fasting to focus our attention on God.
I am hoping that the tiny seeds of discipline planted by this fast will grow and thrive in other areas of my life too. My aspiration is to choose apples over chocolate more often. Maybe if I had more discipline, I wouldn’t even be tempted to cheat on my orthopedist.
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