Monday, May 10, 2010

I run like a duck

No really. It's true.

There's a lot of side to side waddling going on, and I take short, stubby strides. I have since childhood. (And we have the softball videos to prove it.) It's like my ankles are tied together with a rubber band or something. And I never really know what to do with my arms, so I usually end up kind of 'punching' the air with my right hand, while my left attempts to look cool and blend in with the background.

It ain't pretty.

But hey, running is free and relatively easy to do. It gets my heart rate up. No classes. No equipment. Just me and the road. I like it. The road doesn't judge my duckie skills.

So last week, I was about halfway through my morning waddle when - and I can't put it any other way - my stride changed.

I wasn't conscious about it. I didn't tell my feet to move differently. But suddenly I felt like I was flying.

(so not me. tight body - cute exercise clothes - green hills? def not me)

My feet kicked gloriously out in front. They scissored up in the back - my knee actually bent. My torso stayed still, and my arms swung in rhythm with my newfound beat. I couldn't help grinning.

My heart immediately began to pump faster - my lungs working harder, too. And yet despite the extra work, I found that my new pace was more comfortable. More natural.

I had lengthened my stride.

In the 1980s, the prophet of the LDS church, then Spencer W. Kimball, asked every member to 'lengthen their stride.' The dictionary tells us that lengthen means “to make longer … to grow … to extend,” and stride is defined as “to take a very long step … long measured steps … natural pace.”

I've pondered that a lot since my revolutionary run.

I think that I run like a duck in a lot of areas of life. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I'm holding myself back? Afraid of tiring quickly - or because I'm just used to it - or I don't know any other way to run. And yet pushing myself - making my body work harder - was infinitely more comfortable. And therefore more enjoyable.

Could it be that our spirits are made for the 'long stride'? We worry so much that we will overdo it - that we'll get burn out - that we'll set the bar too high. And yet, it truly is a "natural pace."

There's so many things that I want/should/could be doing in my life, that I can't/don't/won't do because I feel it will be "too much." And indeed, we are counseled to lengthen our stride - to take long measured steps - not lengthen our sprint.

And yet -

I really feel that I'll be more comfortable - more natural - to kick myself out a little further.

Bring it on.