There is a lot to learn from getting stuck. There is opportunity for growth in ways that may not be so obvious. For me, just stepping back and asking "What is the point? What is the purpose?" of all this repetition helps me to see what I really need.
I've been running on team, "competing", since I was 9 years old. I took a break from racing in my early adulthood, but returned to racing when cancer made me question my lifestyle and my purpose.
Racing gave me a sense of existence. Published race results really made me feel like I was leaving a literal mark that said "I was here!" Before cancer, I didn't feel like I was leaving my mark anywhere. Racing offered me connectedness to others. Racing made sense to me. I understand racing better than anything else I have ever tried to understand. Cancer taught me I could ensure. But racing taught me about that the limitation I believed about my own ability were. simply are not truth.
And now lately running has been frustrating. I have felt stuck in almost illogical ways. My body isn't responding in the predictable ways it has done for the past 35+ years. I am not new to training.
These words, from this link below spoke to me:
Alright, there’s no way I’m going to get what I want, this is not where I want to go, it’s not happening,” there’s a moment of truth telling, if you’re willing to take it. There’s a moment of potential surrender. You have to give up the goal. You have to give up where you think you want to get to. You have to give up the very conception of the practice that you’re involved in. You have to give up your very definition of it, and what you think you’re doing it for. And in that moment, there’s something real. There’s an authentic reality of yourself in recognizing you’re not getting what you want. This is a dropping down. This is a coming home. And interestingly enough, as soon as you do that, lo and behold, a door opens.
Listen to the entire 12 minutes of the podcast here. https://www.processarts.com/podcasts/process-before-practice/
This week I have rested and then I tested how I felt. I did not make the progress I hoped I would make. My calf is taking so much longer than I expected it should take to heal. My left heel bursa is intermittently agitated with me when I am not working very hard. I have a lot of questions that I am contemplating and I will find my answers in time.
I am happy that by yesterday I felt a turn around. Everything felt better than the day before. This is not the same as being "OK." I am not yet OK but I am better. That is progress.
I did spend time with Strength training. I created some workouts on an app and played around with that. I don't know how I feel about the app yet. Maybe I will keep it after the free trial. Maybe not. I'll figure that out later. I have two more weeks to use it. It makes strength training more interesting for the moment. That is something.
In the mean time, when I can't train, I create art.
Process Art has been helping me find time to process what is going on with me in this moment.
The Principles of Process Art are as follows:
1. Accept that you are not supposed to know what will happen next. Proceed anyway.
2. Give yourself space to think. Listen to your thoughts with genuine and non-judgmental curiosity. Actually sit with them. This is the opposite of all the mindfulness meditation work everyone has been immersed it. Here I we give ourself time to actually think.
3. Respect the process by not criticizing product. Wherever we are in the art is exactly where we are supposed to be. This is not about making "good" art. It is about creating art. In a group setting, participants are asked to NOT complement others. This act of judging the art product, even in a positive way, will extinguish the power of the process. It doesn't matter what you or I think of the final piece. That is not the point.
4. Allow yourself the freedom to follow the energy and not force the direction you go. This means we need to be ok with taking risks and committing to the marks we make on the page. We need to do something and figure it out we go.
5. We need to be ready to dealing with difficulty as we work. This is not about feeling like a kid. This is not childish work. There is a lot of junk that comes up as soon as you realize your art starts to feel like a self-portrait and you don't like what you are seeing. This is where the learning happens for me. Understanding that sometimes what we do doesn't look anything like what we thought we could do or hoped to do ... but there is it anyway. Sometimes things feel bad or wrong or imbalanced or in the wrong place or at the wrong time ... and then what do I do about that? I figure it out as I go. I deal with it. I accept it. I carry on.
5. Unlike other types of art therapy, in Process Art we don't even attempt to interpret the symbolic expression. We are not making art to find meaning in the final product. We are making it to learn from the process.
6. Recognizing completion, a sense of closure, a sense of being ready to move on. This is important. This is not the same as wanting something to go away, as wanting to leave something that is uncomfortable, or being afraid of messing it up something if you continue on. Attempting to achieve a sense of completion is the final "product" of the "process" regardless of what the actual product looks like. Learning what completions feels like is significant.
When not training, I am creating. This process art project is giving me the space to think about my identity as a runner and why I run. Running daily is just as much a "practice" as meditation or art making.
I am ok with not worrying about the product. I have completely stopped worrying about race times, DNS, DNFs, etc... I don't care if my running is "good", I don't care how others will judge me. This shift is what has allowed me to recognize that my "limitations" are simply a result of judgment of the my product of my labor. The same products that once allowed me to feel like I existed, like I was connected to others, like I belonged...
By shifting my focus from running for performance (at least for right now) to running for process I am allowing myself to be free and to figure out where I will go with my running practice. And this shift is allowing me to heal.
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Shannon McGinn, JD, MS, MA, EDS, NBC-HWC, ATR-BC, LPAT.