How do you start (or restart) an exercise program? I’ve not been doing as much as I could since the end of backpacking season, or even a bit before that. My running was sporadic and short, and over the last few weeks, I’d been battling a cold that kept me from CrossFit. I prefer not to expose my fellow athletes to any illness so I’ve been playing it safe. 

I was starting to feel better last weekend, though not quite better enough to dive back into CrossFit. So I decided to do a long run on Saturday and just see how that felt. I’ve been re-reading Chi Running for the first time since I’d first read it years ago, and I’m finding that I’m better able to apply the principles than I used to be. It makes sense. When I first read it, I was a newbie runner. I never ran as a youth, so I had no base to build on. 

Now, after years of running, backpacking and CrossFit, I have a much more stable and strong core, which allows me to actually use the Chi Running principles instead of just using it to adjust my gait away from injury-inducing styles. And I’ve found myself more attracted to the meditative aspects of Chi Running as well, in part, I believe, because I’ve learned about aphantasia. 

Aphantasia is the inability to mentally visualize. Visualization has been one thing that has always been in conflict with me meditating. Most of my exposure had been to the kind of meditation that requires visualizing something, and I just couldn’t do it. Without knowing why I couldn’t do it, I just had to say I couldn’t meditate. But now, I know that I can. I just need to do it without visualizations. Like my dad suggested, I can close my eyes and “visualize” blackness. Or, with Chi Running, I can meditate through the motion of my body. 

I ran 4 miles on Saturday, at a nice, slow pace. I usually try to run faster towards the end of my runs, but for this one I deliberately kept it slow. The goal was not to work on speed, but to work on form, technique and comfort. To focus on my body and what it was doing. Later that evening, I massaged my calves. 

The next day, I had thought about going to CrossFit, but there are only morning classes on Sunday and I just didn’t make the effort to make it. But my legs were feeling so good that I decided to do another long run and set myself up to have 10 miles for the week. Again, I kept the pace slow and steady. I ran 5.6 miles. 

After that, my legs were pretty sore, so I massaged them again, in addition to foam rolling. Nearly 10 miles over two days, and I didn’t feel too bad. So, naturally, I went to CrossFit on Monday, at my typical 5 am time. 

Now, CrossFit usually posts the next day’s workout on their website after 6 pm, but sometimes the post doesn’t go up. That was the case Sunday night. Would I have made a different choice about going to CrossFit if I knew that my leg weekend was about to be followed by leg day (back squats, box step-ups, thrusters, and burpees)? I’d like to think not, but I can’t prove it. 

I’m diving right back in to my routine. Restarting. And I think what’s making it work is my attitude. I know that I’m going to feel good, so I push through the reluctance to get out of bed and the soreness and, surprise surprise, I feel darn good afterwards. I did CrossFit Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with plans for Thursday and Friday this week. I got another 2.2 miles of running on Tuesday, despite the fact that it was raining, with another 2.2 planned for Thursday (I really hope it isn’t raining Thursday). 

I’m taking a page from Nike and just doing it. 

So far, it’s working. 

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