One Day In A Row …

April 14, 2012

ImageIt’s been just shy of a year since I last ran.  This morning I logged one day in a row in what might be a last-ditch attempt to run again.  

My litany of excuses is exhaustive … chronic injury … atrial fibrillation … painful life transition … and I could go on.  I have nowhere near the right to complain that some do.  And those whose obstacles dwarf my excuses still press on.  I think that this is what I admire most and what has been the predominant learning over 31 years of running … no matter what, you keep on going toward the finish line.

My soul cries for the regularity of this experience even more than my body.  There is a life-framing that takes place when the mind and heart rule the body.  When the body is master, life becomes a sluggish bi-product to self-destructive behaviors, whims, addictions.  The pursuit of pleasure is one that turns sour in the end and brings regret as the birthdays stack up.

I am by heart and passion a follower of Christ.  I don’t do it well and I am at peace with my imperfection in all areas of life.  Calling myself a runner does not imply that I am an elite athlete and calling myself a Christian does not imply that I am without blemish or inconsistency.  You don’t have to be an elite anything to be passionate about life.  The “least of runners” can enjoy the sport as much as the “chief of runners”.  So, for me, the least of Christ-followers, I enjoy the process of putting one foot ahead of the other and trying to keep Him in sight.

Inside of my heart, today, there is the flicker of hope that showing up and doing whatever I can that brings me to my limits … pushing the wall farther and farther from the starting line … this ultimately benefits me in many ways.  It makes me see life differently.  It changes my perspective on relationships.  I learn to breathe deeply rather than the shallow stressed breaths that a non-intentional life serves us.

So for any others who have one day in a row under your belts … way to go!  Let’s try it again tomorrow.

Karl 

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Cancer Patients Profit From Exercise

February 8, 2012

Cancer patients often undergo a slew of emotional and physical changes. Lack of physical activity and social life can make treatment and recovery difficult. This is why it is important that cancer patients exercise to improve mental and physical health. Regular exercise can improve quality of life by creating an outlet for stress and anxiety while at the same time, keeping patients in tip-top shape. Emotional difficulty surrounding cancer diagnosImageis and treatment is common. Mood swings and depression tend to create a lack of interest in physical activity. By pushing through these feelings and simply going for a walk, cancer patients can heighten mood and battle chronic depression by raising serotonin levels within the brain. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone that stimulates feelings of happiness, satisfaction and excitement. Physical activity teamed with sunlight increase serotonin production, instantly transforming anger, sadness and anxiety into a sense of well-being. This is helpful for people with all types of cancers including breast, liver and rare forms like mesothelioma.

The physical benefits to exercise can increase cancer treatment effectiveness. When patients undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy, nausea, fatigue and decreased circulation are common. Exercise counteracts these effects by increasing the heart rate thus causing circulation to increase and energy levels to be restored. The digestive system also kicks into gear, and helps reduce feelings of nausea and dizziness. Muscles and bones are strengthened by lifting light weights or using resistance bands, allowing patients to carry on daily routines and remain active despite a cancer diagnosis. This leads to greater independence and the chance to socialize more often, outside of the home. With these added benefits, patients are also less likely to gain weight or suffer from weak muscle function.

The American Council on Exercise recommends that cancer patients aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week. To stay motivated, patients can make exercise a family affair or friendly get-together. Exercising with a small group or simply one partner, keeps both individuals focused on the task at hand. The key to effective exercise programs is to just have fun. Activities that many patients enjoy can immediately spice up any exercise routine. Dancing, playing with children in the yard or a nature walk are all ideal ways to fit in physical activity and make it interesting.

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Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April.

*Liz recently contacted me with this great submission.  Thanks for sharing these great thoughts Liz … keep up the good work. – KI (aka – Pumba)


President Throws Down “Last-Ditch” Gauntlet

June 19, 2010

Okay . . . most of us are in our 50’s.  I know that in the last 3 years I have actually felt my age and perhaps a couple more.  Tigger remains timeless, showing virtually no sign of accumulating birthdays.  Skipper doesn’t have a joint on his body that is pain free.  Gimli . . . well he has a Harley and a goatee to match . . . looks pretty good too.  Does anyone know if Gringo has entered his fifth decade?  I do know that the Argentinian training program is terminal for most of us especially seeing its effect on the one who developed it.

There are some younger ones . . . yes.  The kids and the kids, aside from Ruperts commitment aversion, seem fairly good with the last reduction in the President’s Challenge.  And maybe in reality, this is simply a dose of 50 + years of reality hitting hard.  I don’t know.

SOOOOOOOOOO . . . . .

I am prepared to throw down one last effort at making the PC palatable to all of you old farts.  The young bucks can do this with ease and perhaps inspire the rest of us to reach a bit farther as well.

  • Whereas these and other circumstances constitute the current reality of an aging runner’s club;
  • Whereas there seems to be a general lack of grass roots response to the 1st and 2nd readings of the President’s Challenge;
  • Whereas the cost of the Gulf Coast clean up will likely impact our gas prices adversely . . . at some point;
  • Whereas the early morning noise of socks being pulled up over hairy legs, is a sleep deterrent to at least one of the wives of the 6AM’ers;
  • Whereas, coming to coffee dressed up like you ran, actually constitutes a run equal to half of what you would have run . . . if you had actually run;
  • Whereas coming late and leaving early, although unverifiable, also constitutes a 1 count in the monthly totals;
  • Whereas coming to St. Timothy’s, in and around the time that runners would converge on our early morning edifice, is important for the health and longevity of the group;
  • Whereas the motto of the group has recently changed from, “6AM Runners . . . not to fast . . . not to slow . . . half fast.” . . . to . . . “6AM Runners . . . running is optional and coffee is mandatory.”;
  • Whereas, the President, in life transition and exodus from pastoral ministry, has a little more time to waste on this kind of stupid stuff;

Be it therefore resolved once more that the President’s Challenge be further reduced to 12 times* a month.

Now if any of you continue to struggle with this, let’s just pretend that it is going to work for  you.  Pick up the oven mitt that I have thrown down and in the spirit of all that is feminine, rise to this “not-real-challenging” challenge.

I love you . . .

May God bless us every one . . .

President Warthog

*12 times a month is the reasonable suggestion of Johnnie O


The “Others” – The Less Obvious Blessings of Running

July 7, 2008

Every now and then I forget that the exercise of running is not the only reason that I get out of bed at 5:00am.  Normally an injury will provide an excuse for me to sleep in.  “Sleeping in” is not what it once was. Now sleeping in means skipping the run and meeting the troupe at 6:30 am at St. Timothy’s for coffee. And after 28 years of early morning running, I am no longer able to sleep past 7:00 am unless I want a headache to remind me that I should have run.

So what are the “other” benefits?

  • Avoiding the typical morning stupor.  Adrenaline is a most effective and natural chemical to provide the best perspective on a new day.  Regardless of how thick the mental fog may be, it dissipates after about 30 seconds of running.  The last vestiges of yesterday’s issues are shaken off and replaced with fresh perspective on the new day and an emerging belief that there are no insurmountable obstacles, . . . no unsolvable problems.  This is so far beyond crawling out of bed on a bare-budget time schedule that has you scrambling mindlessly, the highest aspiration to simply get to your workplace on time.
  • Laughter, therapy for the soul.  We have a capable psychologist in the group who is convinced that there are psychotics among us.  I defer to his expertise.  However his expertise may not be his greatest gift to us.  Mostly it is the suggestion that we are not with normal people.  Even the possibility that I may be the least normal.  I am reminded, as the fun is poked, that I will enjoy the day so much more if I begin by resisting the temptation to take “me” quite so seriously.  Maybe, I can afford to take my job, regardless of what it is, a little less to heart.  And maybe I can do all of this and actually be a more productive human being.  Perhaps, if I see the humor in me that my closest friends see, I can engage in less conflict with others.  Maybe I can admit my mistakes rather than defensively denying them.  And possibly, if I can become a more authentic person, there may be others who will do the same.  All this without a single sermon?  I remember asking myself how many people in our harried society begin each day with numbers of “belly-laughs”.  I believe that I am among the very few.
  •  Good company.  Few of us would admit it readily to the others.  I suspect however, that I am among some of the greatest men in the world.  They are faithfully at their stations, changing their worlds incrementally.  Most days they are unaware of this.  My personal belief is that God is most able to use us when we are less self-conscious.  “The more I think of God – the less I think of me and the more I think of me – the less I think of God.”  When I begin to think of life-changing moments and lessons that have shaped me, I remember that they have come in unexpected times and places, from unexpected sources.  I begin my day with good men and they are Divinely and unconsciously empowered to help me frame my world.  The importance of good company cannot be overestimated.
  • The “metastasis” of discipline.  One of the positive shades of meaning of an otherwise nasty word is “a spiritual change, such as in baptism”.  When I began to run my body was the master of my mind.  My body told me when to get up.  My body told me to quit when it hurt.  The discipline of running has been the coup of mind over body.  As I learned to push myself to my limits and beyond, I learned that I could do this in all areas of my life.  This was discipline metastasizing through my life.  Running now requires no more discipline from me than taking a walk.  But the life lesson that has come through it, has seen me through times and circumstances that have spelled the end for others of my peers.
  • Just one more.  Alignment.  I believe that the value of all these things comes from natural principles that are as much a part of creation as gravity or photosynthesis.  And they are not by “chance” but clearly by “design”.  They spring from the heart and nature of the Creator, the giver of all good gifts. They are innately resident, but often dormant, until the “spiritual” being within us is regenerated or made alive.  Running for me has become a spiritual experience, a connecting point . . . really.  I have formulated sermons, prayed prayers, sought forgiveness, discovered humility, comforted friends or been comforted myself.  I have seen sunrises that many miss.  I have seen tiny mice turn to fight cats.  I have seen deer and moose in the city core.  I have stopped to talk to people who have been starved to find someone who cares.  I have had the definite sense that God had reasons greater than my own for being out early in the morning.  So yes, it is a spiritual experience. 

Now if you ask most any of my friends about what I have just said, they will disavow any knowledge of me as a 6AM Runner.

Pumba


Warthogs to the Back

July 3, 2008

No one in our group ever gets to choose their own nickname.  Some people come with some good ones that have been gradually adopted, having proved themselves to be worthy.  For instance, Layton Ford came with the nickname, “Tigger”.  Now that’s cute even for a 55 year old man.  With Layton, it is more than cute, it is explicit.  He loves life!  He has no functional, remaining “pain sensors”.  He doesn’t run, he bounces.  Adjusting this nickname is like watching the “Fonz” step in the mens room, take out his comb, look at his coif and then silently decide that there is no need to mess with what he is looking at.

I believe that one of my major gifts, and this borders on the “divine right of kings”, is to name those who wander innocently into our company.  While the tendency is to quickly name the new recruits, my method is to “watch” for dominant flaws or foibles that bring much joy to the already flawed group.  The great “glee” is to watch as people surrender to the inevitability of being discovered to be actually human, and then once discovered to learn to revel in their own laughability.  This is therapy at its finest, for we all come as “masters of disguise”, having practiced our performances to perfection for the sake of those who never discover their own nicknames. (for lack of questionable company)  Consequently “Murph” is now able to laugh at his tendency to discover new ways to hurt himself.  (Murphy’s Law, Runners Corollary 1 – “If there is a way for me to injure myself on a given run, I will do it.”)  Or, “Gringo”, the name bestowed on our only Argentinian runner.  Now “Gringo” means “white guy”.  This is irony at its best.  Gringo is one of our most beloved runners.  It is amazing that in this company, none are over-sensitive to ethnic reference because there is this unusual commitment to one another that makes words irrelevant and relationship supreme.

My name is Pumba.  I never gave myself this name.  It really came to me from my father, . . . not the name but the flaw.  It is an act of Providence that a runner with this particular flaw, should have shorter legs than anyone else.  Aside.  My son recently passed me in height.  I love that.  I was telling someone who had not seen him in some time that he was 6 feet tall.  That insensitive individual remarked that he must have gotten his height from the other side of the family.  Now that was a clever piece of deduction!  I said, “Yes.  On my side of the family our genes were . . . too long.  Get it?  Genes/jeans . . . . . ?

I have never in my lifetime participated in a sport that would be natural to me.  At 5’8″, I was a fair basketball player.  I should never have played basketball but on Grand Manan Island, it was that or nothing. And I became a runner . . . but I am built more like a Humvee.  Now when you try to move 28” inseams to keep up with the more graceful runners in our group, it puts you in one place alone.  That is at the back of the pack.  For 28 years, this has been my accustomed pole position.  This is not flattering but it is what it is.

Providence is rarely flattering.  But most any runner in our group is thankful for my short legs.  A runner gasping for air is better served by fresh air, something that I fear I would spoil for the others if I were a “front-of-the-pack” kind of guy. (remember the nickname now) Truthfully I might never have developed a “following” if this had been the case.  Instead, I have become my own following.  There is a life lesson that I have learned as well.  For people like myself, there is great freedom that comes when you discover that there is more room at the back of the “rat race” then there is at the front.  On the highways, driving under the speed limit will produce a greater expanse of open road than driving over the speed limit.  My wife lovingly tells me that, in this respect, I am weird.  I think she is right.  I also use less gas at the back of the pack.

 

Pumba