Lazy Runner Viewpoint
Most people who know me would describe me as many things, some negative and some positive, but I don’t think they would ever use the word relaxed when talking about my personality.
I think relaxed is a genetic imprint that you’re born with and I wasn’t born with it, neither was my mother nor her mother. I do however, envy people who appear to be relaxed and chilled out, at the same time I am usually frustrated and perplexed by them but I do wonder how they manage to live in the calm, easy going state. How do they survive??
I have tried many techniques over years to get myself to loosen up a bit and relax. In the very early 80’s when yoga and meditation arrived in Australia and every chilled out guru thought it was a great idea to clear a spot in their lounge room or hire out the old church hall on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and hold yoga/meditation classes. Me, always trying to be cool and up with the trends would go along, however, when it came to the meditation part where we had to lie on our mats and relax, my thoughts were mostly consumed with “who shot JR?” and ‘how I do I stop my g string leotard from riding up?’
When I was studying my Diploma of Massage, my lecturer was one of those lovely, calm softly spoken, chilled out people. She had an aura of calm around her and even if you wanted to, you never seemed to get stressed when she was in the room.
I thought to myself , I wonder is she hires herself out on occasions, or could she bottle whatever it is she’s on and I could buy it from her?
She did however, give me a great tip. She often said “never tell someone to relax”. Her theory was it isn’t a state you can just go into when someone tells you to, in fact mostly when someone tells you to relax you just tense up more trying to relax!
Over the years life has got busier and crazier for me, like most people in my age group. And mostly I cope very well, my day starts at 4am, and finishes at about 10pm, and I’m often wondering how I can make more effective the time I waste between midnight and 4am sleeping!.
However, every now and again I wonder if I should relax more, is all this running around and stress going to send me to an early grave, or is all this stressing about trying to relax going to put me in the ground quicker?
I read lots of self help books to help de-stress and last year I took on a 6 week program in Noosa, that was a combination of Yoga, stretching and relaxation techniques. It was a one and a half hour session once a week, of course I was wondering as a time saver if they could condense it into a quick half hour, once again re affirming that I was in need of serious relaxation help.
The first session, I went with an open mind. The first half was yoga and stretching, which always a little embarrassing for me as my body only really knows three positions; standing upright, sitting up right or lying flat, anything out of those three positions is a real no go zone. Therefore, the lotus, cobra and side crow is not something my body responds to and please don’t get me started on the downward and upward facing dogs.
However, I did get through it with a lot of creaks and groans and I’m sure I could hear some muffled giggles from the other participants, so I was really pleased when the Instructor told us it was time to lie down on our mats and light some candles and wrap blankets around ourselves.
Here we go, I thought now I am really going to learn how to relax. I promised myself I was going to focus and do everything she told me to do and not let my mind wander to anything like... what I was going to cook for dinner or who was going to get kicked out of Idol...I was going to relax, I said to myself through gritted teeth and clenched fists… oh that’s right I must relax!
She took us through some relaxation drills like the old, “Hello toes. Relax toes” this is where you talk to your body parts, get acquainted with them and ask them to relax. Unfortunately my body parts have always behaved like rebellious teenagers, if I say “hello knees” they usually come back with “yeah what the bloody hell do you want?” But I was determined to follow her theories right to the end, so I continued ignoring the snide remarks each body part retorted with.
Then she got to lovely part where she tells you to go find your happy place. She gave suggestions like a beautiful green field near a bubbling brook (what the hell is a bubbling brook) , where you are lying in a sundress
( sundress!! I don’t think I own one), it’s a beautiful sunny day (oh dear I hope I have sunscreen) you can hear the birds singing you can feel the lovely cool grass underneath you ( now I feel itchy, I think there are ants). I tried hard to follow everything she said, I went to my happy place.
I lay on the grass I listened to the birds, and then she asked us to stay and enjoy our happy place for 10 mins before we came back to the real world. She then told us to open our eyes slowly. And it was then that I had the most gut wrenching revelation “Oh my God, I hate my happy place! It’s horrible and boring, I never want to go there again!!”
The instructor approached me as I was leaving and said that I looked very stressed when I came out of my meditation. "Was everything Ok?" she asked. I told her that I had trouble sorting out my happy place, and she said “Oh don’t just listen to my words, create your own favourite place, it could be lying on a beach, it could be quietly sitting in a room reading a book”. To which I thought, I live in Noosa, why would I imagine a beautiful beach when I can just go and really lie on it!, why would I imagine reading a book when I can just go home and lie down and read.. “I really need to work on this happy place crap” I thought.
At the next session, when we were told to find our happy place, and once again she went on about the bubbling brooks, the grass etc, and then when she told us to lie there for ten minutes, in that time, I thought “You know what this place needs?...a cocktail bar, after a couple of Mai Tais I was hungry so I decided to create a good Italian Restaurant.” After I finished my margherita pizza I thought, “yeah I can see some potential in this happy place”.
On week three I was getting excited, I planned to introduce a shoe shop and a Mary Ryan’s to the happy place, which should easily fill in the 10 mins, trying on shoes, and looking at the new book releases!
Week four had me looking into a Raw Energy Franchise and of course maybe setting up a Lazy Runner session, right beside the bubbling brook. All this had my head spinning and by the time the 10 mins was up, I didn’t have half the things done that I had planned for my happy place
By the time I got to the last week, I was so stressed that it was the last week and my happy place was no where near finished, the 7 screen movie theatre was taking longer than I thought....And what with drinking cocktails, eating pizza and trying to fit in a Lazy Runner session it was all too much.
When the instructor told me to open my eyes for the last time, I didn’t want to, I needed just 10 mins more to get a few thing sorted. I finally open my eyes and sat up, all the other class members looked rested, relaxed and happy, I was so stressed, I walked out of my last session a jangling bundle of nerves!
The instructor asked me would I come back for the next program as I seem to need some more work done on my relaxations techniques, I did think about it for a moment, as I really wanted that Ferris Wheel on the south bank of my bubbling brook but I knew my happy place was way out of control and I think I would have to get out before it dragged me under.
It really worried me that I couldn’t make it work, I couldn’t just enjoy the simple happy place, I had to turn it into a carnival like, theme park and then of course stress myself out about it.
That evening I was so upset and stressed, I pulled on the running gear and belted out a 10km run in Noosa as fast as I could. I came back a big, red, sweating lobster, I was absolute exhausted, but guess what? My head was empty, all the stress of my happy place was gone; I was exhausted but relaxed and calm.
It was then I had my epiphany. My happy place is when I run. I was so obsessed that this relaxation thing required calm, dark, quiet rooms, where you lie and think of nothing. I know me, and now I know... I can’t think of nothing!
However, when I run I seem to able to sort out all my jumbled thoughts and worries into some sort of order and it’s that order that calms me and relaxes me. I think I achieve that because it is one of the only times in the day that I am in my own head without any other disturbances, like phone, computer, kids, Lazy Runners! etc, and once there I can sort through things it seems to have a calming effect I also find that the actual physical exertion, relaxes me.
I imagine the sweat pouring out of me is all the toxins and bad feelings seeping away. I’ve also found that I tend to think clearer, sleep better and have more energy on the days I run.
Moral of my Story..if you are like me and don’t like your happy place or simply cannot find it, go for a run instead!