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Use this for that

unlikely toolWay, way back, a long time ago – like in the 90’s – I ran in a fantastic road race in Harvard, MA: the annual Apple Harvest Ramble Road Race. It’s a 10-miler through a picturesque New England town, with one gargantuan hill. I ran it twice, in ’98 and ’99 – and, from race 1 to race 2, I decreased my race time by 12 minutes. That’s pretty good – for those of you who don’t run.

But the part of the story that I love the most is how I did it. You’d think that I must have run harder, longer and more often over the course of that year, practicing my craft, honing my technique and my body. But, I didn’t. I actually ran less.

What I did more was yoga. It wasn’t cardio, and therefore, it didn’t even seem compatible with running at the time. But it was. The core strength that I wrung out of every movement, the power in my legs from the lunges and warrior poses, the muscles in my upper body from the down dogs and chaturangas (plank pose), the control of my breath and the ability to use that control to move through strenuous or uncomfortable situations. They made a dramatic difference.

Interestingly, I didn’t even realize what the yoga was doing for my running until I crossed the finish line that second year – shocked at my time.

This memory popped into my head this morning, and I started thinking about how we can use the principle of it in other areas of our lives. What complimentary ‘exercise’ could we do for our writing? for any creative pursuits? for business? for whatever your main activity is?

What this could we use for that? If yoga helps running and a hammer can really open a cantaloupe, I’m sure we can think of thousands of activities that can help us do any number of things better, or at least 12 minutes faster.

Image credit: cooljinny

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Cool! And also proof that with running, as with so many things, less is often more…

  • Liz Jenkins says:

    I find that when I help someone get organized and teach them those skills to use on their own, they end up improving whatever work they do. It’s like the little nagging bit in the back of their brain (or the huge pile of papers on the desk) goes away so they can focus on what they are really good at. Learning how to be organized can make a huge difference in the level of success someone can achieve in my experience.
    On the other side of that, I had a client recently who is an artist – and working with her helped me open up my creative side. I’m going to try my hand at painting which I think will only help my spatial abilities which will help my work. Just goes round and round.

  • Belle says:

    The only thing that comes to mind for me right now is reading – I know the more I read, the better my writing seems to get. I love your story about yoga and running. It’s been a while since I last did a yoga session. Now that I’m running (or trying to!) more regularly, maybe I should also go back to practicing yoga more regularly too.

  • Edgy Mama says:

    Walking, sleeping, bathing–I find anything that puts me into a slightly meditative state improves my writing. I’ll suddenly be struck with a better sentence, or the structure for a piece, or even the exact right word. My ah-ha moments tend to sneak up on me when I think I’m not really thinking. So I need remember to give my subconscious some freedom and know that my writing will improve as a result.

    Great post, Julie!

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