Relax. Nothing is under control.

By: Alie Columbus

Birds on power lines with foothills in background
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

“Relax. Nothing is under control.”

Adi Da

This quote was shared with me recently by a dear friend. I have begun to make it my mantra as each week seems to bring a new set of accepted normallacies to our culture. Like many others, I have found more gratitude from the adjustments to daily life, short term goals, and long term goals as well. 

I had 2020 all figured out. I had registered and planned my year of races that would challenge me, help me grow, give time for recovery between, and then amp me back up to achieve the goal of the next one. Like most others in our running community, as races started to be canceled, I found myself feeling rebellious and wanting to create groups that would literally ‘run rogue.’ It didn’t take very long to realize that taking the pressure off such a packed year meant more time to work on myself in more important ways that I had been neglecting. Running was becoming a constant challenge of hitting goals I felt required of myself and I lost patience with my own healing, recovery, as well as the targeted growth. 

As a society, we are only into this shift in our lives a few weeks and I imagine we have a long way to go yet. However, every run I get out for, I am more grateful to be outside doing it. I appreciate the spring flowers along the trail side, the seasonal birds returning, and the shift in the air. I went to a favorite spot last weekend for a hilly trail loop and brought my running partner (think 4 paws, a waggy tail, and a tongue hanging out of his smile). I had been working on bettering his manners during runs off leash. But last weekend, I began to wonder if each run would be our last outside run together. I took a step back- both in his training and from my goals for him/us. I wanted us both to just share pure joy and gratitude for the day. 

Having some of those races canceled, allowed me to delve deeper into what brought me to running and what kept me there. I started running to support a friend and challenge myself a bit. I stayed running because it took me to places in and outside of myself that are very reflective  yet also an escape. I stayed running because of the community and friends made along the way. I stayed running because I love the challenge of doing something you never thought possible before. And mostly, I stayed running because the views are freakin’ phenomenal!!!

Finding quiet within and taking the opportunity to hang out with who should be my own best friend (myself) has been enlightening . Do I miss gathering for a meal with friends, running as a group on the greenbelt and trails, HUGS? Absolutely, I do. 

“Nothing is under control”. Isn’t it a relief to not have to strive to make that balance happen but, rather to let it happen?! It is amazing what happens when we accept and appreciate every moment. 

I wish everyone health inside and out and look forward to our time together again soon. Meanwhile, be strong within yourself, weak to lose your joy and hope, and balanced throughout. 


Slowing Down and Paying Attention to the Small Things

By Sara Fry

Viewing the pandemic as a call to slow down and pay attention to the small things… because really the small things are big.

A friend mentioned that they hadn’t realized how over-scheduled they were until COVID-19 closed down all their 5- and 8-year-old’s sports. Suddenly they are home in the evenings, going on walks, playing games together, and eating relaxed meals as a family. Another friend feels like the pandemic is trying to remind humans of how out of sync we are with nature. Seeing photos of the canals in Venice clear for the first time in decades or satellite images showing reduced pollution brings that home and reminds me that the Earth can heal itself if we give it a chance. Slowing down – as a species and in our homes – feels like the perfect description of how I’ve adjusted my running goals.

The probable cancellation of my late-June marathon, Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota,  and the lack of group runs with the BAR is making it easier to slow down and really pay attention to my body. I’d already decided to run/walk the marathon due to my Achilles tendon. I’m still building up my total time in case the race happens, and if it’s cancelled, I’ll still continue to build up – I’ll just skip the full distance and extra fatigue that comes with it! Getting up to a 20-mile run/walk will still feel like a huge accomplishment. 

Knowing the race may not happen has made it easier to stop focusing on the length of my run intervals. After reading about someone who ran an impressive PR run/walking with 1 mile run intervals followed by 30-steps of walking, I was working towards 1 mile run intervals. I was fine at 0.4, and each week I added 0.05 or 0.1 to my running interval. Somewhere between 0.5 and 0.6 miles, my Achilles started getting annoyed. Now, in contrast, I don’t use my watch to guide how long I run – I pay attention to how I feel. I also pay attention to the possible dog distractions up ahead (if you’ve ever met Emma at a BAR run, you know the threat is real!). If I see ducks or a dog, I start to run and I stop whenever I’m in the mood. The last time I saw my PT, he couldn’t believe how much progress I’d made after being in a stuck point for so long. Maybe I’d have gotten to this spot without knowing my race may be cancelled – but I kind of doubt it!

I know BAR friends have adjusted their running in surprising ways as well. For example, Glenna Toomey viewed the cancellation of the Eugene Half Marathon as an opportunity to get out on trails and reconnect with the joy of running. She ended up running more miles that week than she did when marathon training. Some are running more, others may be running less.

Sarah Fry leans out the passenger window of a truck and her dog's head sticks out the window behind her.
Sarah, right, and Emma.

When I think about why I started running somewhat seriously close to three years ago, I wanted to get out and enjoy winter (which is a hard season for me) and have fun with Emma. As Emma has gotten older and Beau has gotten faster, my goal expanded to keep Emma fit and make it easier for Beau to do key runs and not have to be as concerned about helping get the dogs exercise. Slowing down and paying attention has helped me support Emma, too – who is having some arthritic pains that seem to have started just as COVID-19 swept across the US. I’m now keeping a training log for her so we can see if there is a sweet spot with the right mix of activity and rest.

As I look back, I see that I had doubts that I was going to be able to build up to marathon fitness safely given the pain I was having in my Achilles tendon. It’s strange to think that I may be better able to achieve my late-June running goal of being ready for a marathon distance because of slowing down and paying attention. Like Glenna “accidentally” ran higher mileage as she enjoyed the beauty of the foothills in spring and a slowing down from the cognitive demands of her challenging training plan, I am also achieving growth through changing my approach. 

I know we all look forward to a return to life as we knew it before the pandemic led to social distancing and a myriad of other changes to protect our communities, I hope we will all take some lessons with us. Slowing down (it’s a metaphor – you can still run fast!) and paying more attention to our needs, seems worthy of carrying forward.

Memories Taste Eternal

I must keep reminding myself of this

By: Matt Edwards, in honor of our friend Rob Hancock and his poem “Today, I Run.”

All italicized lines are lyrics from Tool songs, Rob’s favorite band.

yesterday, I recovered

I sipped cold beer through chapped lips
and let my mind wade through its current
visualizing the next idyllic race
I just want to start this over

I foam rolled the length of my IT band 
and pressed a novelty landmine into my glute meat
digging through my old muscles, looking for a clue
because that kind of pain is my salvation 
broken now but faith can heal

I stretched myself into cats and cows and dogs
never feeling more calm, comfortable, and at home
than when posing as a child
a warrior
I’ll move, to heal, as soon as pain allows, 
so we can reunite, and both move together

today, I train

I pack color coordinated running clothes 
into a shoestring backpack
before work, before the sun thinks to spill over the mountains
ruled by will alone
because I wanna know what I’ve been hiding in my shadow
or at least that’s how I answer their questions

I solidify the workout in my head 
as I skip and lunge and—
delay the inevitable
I ask my body holding me if it’s ready
and a groan of tedium escapes me
I tell it, “you’re just here for me to use
two miles in, it warms, it concedes,
as if together we are choosing to be here right now

and with my feet upon the ground 
I lose myself between the sounds

now is my time
to contemplate what I’ve been clinging to

I enter a circle of fluorescent singlets and smiling faces
to start every Saturday morning
and release a sigh that seems to say “so glad that I have found you

as the circle unfurls and breaks 
into pace groups built on a humble premise of solidarity
that what you need is someone strong to guide you
I reach[…] out to embrace whatever may come

inevitably, someone begins to push the pace
I swallow hard
my breath becomes hesitant 
but then the cadence of a dozen feet pull me in
and a voice tells me to “aim your body heavenly”
and my fear begins to fade

I wanna feel the change consume me
what’s coming through is alive

tomorrow, I will race

I will step into the kaleidoscope of a corral 
to survey the competition
and when we’re called to the starting line
I will barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
then the gun’s sound will instantly transform 
months of dreaming into a reality
wedged between the mystery of preparation and outcome

miles in I’ll be riding the crests and troughs of confidence
realizing the futility of thinking I could see into the future
feeling the difference between experience and preparation
then I’ll remember that over-thinking, over-analyzing separates the body from the mind
that I must hold on, stay inside
embrace this moment

I will eventually come to a deciding moment:
to keep racing, or to simply run
to “win” is to make the tougher choice
to push it, to feel the full experience

at this moment I will recite an incantation:
“all this pain is an illusion
surviving is my only friend
recognize this as a holy gift”

and this will lift my head, urging me to cross the line

Today, I Run

Today, I run.

I run for health. For that calm alertness to follow. Sometimes it’s controlled, deliberate and precise. Other days, done with abandon — the clock be damned! Just go! Push! Whatever comes, I will be high all day. Work and conversation smoother, food tastier, slumber a bit sweeter. Its own reward.

I run because that is the time to simply be. Time when there is no room to lament the past; no time to worry about the future. No time to call or sit or text or email. This is the time, my time, to move, to breathe, to strive. To struggle. To count, tally, record. To embrace the gift of being.

To send that primitive message to the mind: That we moved today. We wandered, pursued, hunted. We were chased, maybe. And we survived. Like those before us, who made us, who are us. We ran.

And we might need to be just a little faster, go a little farther tomorrow. So, make sure we’re ready. Adapt. Make us go faster, farther.

So tomorrow, I run.

CANCELED: 2020 Spring Training Camp

Come join the Boise Area Runners on May 1-3 at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) in McCall for a weekend of running, learning, and fun!

The camp is geared for beginning and experienced runners alike. Our goal is to help you improve all aspects of your running. It will feature dynamic presentations and interactive sessions covering:

  • Nutrition
  • Race planning
  • Yoga
  • Injury prevention and treatment
  • Training
  • Running safety
  • And much more!

No camp experience would be complete without fun runs, a movie night, and social time to socialize.

Our Spring Training Camp will be held at the University of Idaho’s MOSS campus, located inside Ponderosa State Park. Accommodations will be the campus rustic bunkhouses (think childhood summer camp!). MOSS will provide bottom sheets, but you are required to bring your own bedding, linens, and toiletries. The bunkhouses are heated and quite comfortable and accommodate 8 per room. Please note the bunkhouses are co-ed and individual accommodations may not be possible. If you have questions, please contact the organizers. Recently built bathroom and shower facilities are located on site, so no need to fear a cold shower or bathing in the lake (unless you want to)!

All meals during the camp are provided. When you sign up, be sure to indicate any dietary restrictions (vegetarian/vegan and/or gluten intolerance) and the awesome staff at MOSS will do their best to accommodate.

Come have fun, learn tips to enhance your running at any level, and meet up with a great group of runners!

Space is limited, so register early!