Trail running in Yosemite

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This week my husband and I did some trail running and hiking in the Yosemite National Park and the mountains of South Lake Tahoe. We camped at Curry Village in Yosemite for three nights and spent two days running and hiking in the mountain and in the meadows of Sierra Nevada. After that we drove to South Lake Tahoe to run a section of the Tahoe rim trail. It was an amazing and fulfilling experience!

California is currently experiencing a severe drought. In the park one could see that the water levels were low and the rivers were not flowing as strongly as it is customary. Nevertheless, the view of the soaring cliffs remained spectacular. As I took in the beauty of nature I could understand why John Muir stated that;

‘Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.’

The first day of our trail run we climbed 3 200 feet to Glacier Point. The higher I ran up the mountain, the deeper I connected with my body and the calmer my mind became. I tried to be mindful of what nature had to offer every step of the way. From the smallest ground squirrel, autumn coloured leaves, moss on the trees, different bird species and the granite boulders. There were wildfires burning near Yosemite Village that influenced the air quality. When we reached the summit we could not take the postcard picture photo due to poor visibility. I was surprised that it did not upset me, even after I had had to put in hard work to get to the summit. It made me wonder what was different? I realized that it was because I was appreciating the journey.

It reminded me of life. We tend to focus on the big goal, the peak of the mountain. But when you get there you usually don’t feel as content or happy as you thought you would feel. However, if you are mindful on the journey and allow yourself to experience the beauty of the small and mundane things, even the parts where you get bored or impatient when the road becomes long or tough, then reaching the summit of the mountain is just another step.

Life is not about racing from one breath-taking moment to another but about breathing and taking in the moment, every moment.

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Connecting with your heart rate

Heart

Yesterday my dad, brother and I ran the Knysna Marathon. My brother injured his calf muscle and had a slight cold a week before the race. However, at the end he decided to run the marathon with us. The condition was that we take it very slowly. When it comes to sport taking it slow is not something my family is good at. We can be very competitive. Not only with others but also with ourselves.

The strategy was that we were going to keep to my brother’s heart rate. Whenever it would reach a certain rate we would stop running and walk a bit. I am really proud that we managed to listen to our bodies during the marathon. We tend to be too much in our heads and forget about our bodies. We sometimes think that the only purpose of our body is to carry our heads around. However, our bodies speak to us in subtle ways. Pat Ogden writes that ‘the body always leads us home . . . if we can simply learn to trust sensation and stay with it long enough for it to reveal appropriate action, movement, insight, or feeling’.

In listening to our bodies and keeping my brother’s heart rate within a certain range we managed to complete the marathon together. Finishing the marathon together was more important for us than running a fast time. I realised that is also what we value about life. It is more important having someone who can be our companion on the journey, than standing on the pedestal alone. We want someone to share the journey with, a witness for our life.

During the marathon we witnessed how each one struggled with his or her own ‘inner judge’. More we witnessed how in supporting one another we could all reach the finish line together and share in the cheers of our loved ones. A memory that we will treasure in our hearts. Much better than achieving a fast time on your own. At the end our hearts and heads were in harmony. In connecting with our bodies we found our way home.