Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Systema and Running


With the arrival of 2014, I have been getting back into my running (and hopefully soon my swimming too). For most of my life this has never been one of my strong points. I remember as a child often getting out of breath at school carnivals and in the playground, while the other kids just zipped by at what seemed to me to be effortless ease.

With the help of 2 good friends of mine I decided to remedy this a few years ago and face what had turned into a bit of a fear of mine that had haunted me since childhood. That tightness in the chest and between the shoulder blades, the painful stitch in the belly, the gasping for air... Well at least that was how I remembered it... Fortunately with the help of Systema Principles and also my on again off again love affair with the Chi Running Method (Click Here for more information), I have made some great improvements and have actually started to enjoy running now.

This morning I was running on the beach with a mate of mine when my attention drifted towards the other runners on the beach. There were many different types of folks there today. Athletes, mums, teenagers, a few older folks taking a crack at it. Some were powering on, others were struggling. Sometimes I was overtaking slower runners other times I was being over taken by faster runners. It was then that something one of my teachers had told me some years ago came to mind.

"Establish and maintain a base of comfort. Then if you choose to increase your intensity, do so but remain as relaxed and as comfortable as best you can. Don't just become good at suffering."

It was tempting for me to focus on how fast I was going, how many people I could overtake or even trying to beat my friend to the other side of the beach. But instead I decided to heed that sage advice. So while I continued to run at a pace that I could sustain I began to ask myself:

How comfortable am I within myself?

How is my posture?

Where is the tension accumulating in my body and can I let it go?

Is my breath alleviating or creating more tension in my body?

Am I taking in just what I need or am I being greedy with my breath?

Am I moving at a pace where I can sustain this base of comfort? 

Or is my pride and ego causing me to strain and throw out my base for the sake of an external result?

I have come to realise something when it comes to my running, my Systema training and life in general.

Make your goal to be comfortable within yourself. Don't judge your success based on how many people you can overtake or beat. Prioritise understanding and improving yourself over just an external result. Often those external results are just a by product of self understanding and what you choose to do with it anyway. 

Run your own race. Or  as we Systema folk like to say: 
Do your own work.

Like this guy:


You can also study how to increase the intensity and stay relaxed!!!!!!!!! I wrote a bit about it some years ago in the post Use what Destroys You to Restore You

Until next time,

Justin Ho
Principal Instructor
Systema Sydney Russian Martial Art

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