Lessons of Running: Faceplants and Fatigue

I don’t know how runners survive without intuition.

Early on, we’re told to “listen to the body.” I suspect not many of us take it seriously at first.  We learn the hard way.

Experience teaches us that each moment of a run is meaningful, rich with valuable information. All we have to do is learn to listen.

If we’re so inclined, the soul can guide us, too – like the body, it answers our prayers through the heart.

During a long run earlier this week, I experienced the value of intuition yet again.

I felt strangely tired – not the fatigue of overtraining, but an elderly, frail feeling. My legs lacked pep, and my heart and lungs felt weak, unable to work hard.

When I tried to parse the problem with logic, I came up with a big, fat zero.

I did all the right things. I took carbs, water, and electrolytes. After the run, I drank Recoverite with water. Yet I continued to feel blah. Overtraining seemed unlikely, since I run long just once a week, and my long runs never go beyond 2 hours.

I decided to stop using logic and consult my intuition. I prayed for guidance, and the answer came immediately. I felt intuitively, with a sure heart’s knowing, that what my body wanted was grease.

At home, I made another Recoverite smoothie with goat’s milk, frozen strawberries, and rice syrup. I also ate goat cheese with crackers. Yet an hour later I still felt cored-out.

Later, I consulted my intuition again, and the answer I got was: more grease.

I fried two Trader Joe veggie burgers, then cut them up with four tablespoons of organic coconut oil. It was profoundly satisfying. Within minutes, I knew it was what my body needed. Within an hour, my energy had returned, my mood was upbeat, and I felt whole again. The next day, I felt more recovered than after any long run in recent months.

This week brought a remarkable series of spiritual lessons, all having to do with intuition. The last one bore a spiritual message.

I started a short, easy run in new shoes. They’re lightweight and designed for fast training – even the name suggests speed: Adizero Tempo. I was tempted to run faster than I ought to, tempted by ego…

And then I fell. A woman walking ahead turned and asked, “Are you all right?”

Not wanting to make a fuss, I picked myself up and said, “These things happen from time to time.”

She turned, reassured, and continued her walk. But I felt that something was wrong with my right hand. I looked down and saw that the middle finger was dislocated. Suffice it to say that it was numb and bent sideways 45 degrees at the knuckle.

I thought, “I make my living with these fingers – I really have to do something! But there’s NO WAY I’m going to the doctor, where I’ll have to wait for hours waiting in the ER and spend hundreds of dollars to fix this damn finger!” I asked, “What should I do?” And I felt intuitively guided to pull the finger gently until it popped in place.

Suddenly I felt the humor of the situation. I thought, “Oh, Divine Mother, how funny You are! Honestly, You are hilarious!” By grace, I suddenly felt that I was living in the “other” world, where spiritual seekers must sooner or later learn to live, in their soul. I felt the presence of my teacher, very strongly. I saw him in intuitive vision in a golden light, smiling happily. He was very pleased, and I knew that humor was the RIGHT attitude.

My spiritual teacher lives continually in that other world. Many times, I’ve seen his spiritually advanced disciples demonstrate perfect inner detachment and humor amid very difficult physical and emotional tests. It’s an attitude that I’ve been trying to cultivate. I feel this experience was given to encourage my efforts.

I washed and proceeded to the car. I was feeling so happy that I drove to the Stanford campus and finished my run. By grace, I felt an unbroken sense of humor and joy and freedom. And, by grace, I didn’t fall again.

I knew that God wanted me to avoid medical advice for the injury. But that evening I couldn’t resist looking up the condition. Gosh, what if my finger was infected?

I found that the “authoritative” advice was joyless. It described the terrible things that could happen if I didn’t let a physician X-ray and set and possibly operate on my stupid finger – and charge me a king’s ransom for his efforts.

Logic and science and doctorly sympathy opened my mind to doubts and worries and self-concern, accompanied by a total loss of the joy and fun I had been feeling.

I closed the Internet page and did my best to renew the spirit of detachment, and of living with God and my teacher.

I realized that the worst kind of attachment is self-pity. I recalled a story from an inspiring book, Swami Kriyananda – As We Have Known Him. Years ago, the author’s teacher, Kriyananda, was deathly ill. Yet he adamantly refused to let anyone call for medical help. “Do NOT call the doctor!” he roared. Finally, someone defied his wishes and phoned the doctor anyway, whereupon he became very childlike, calmly accepting it as God’s will.

The faceplant seemed to announce the future, telling me: “This is the direction you need to go.”

During a private talk with my teacher, I praised one of his chief disciples. My teacher said, “Yes, she is wonderful. It’s going to take you a long time to find that kind of freedom. She’s had the training.”

Since then, I’ve come to respect that wonderful disciple more and more. I have felt her great strength, her one-pointed dedication, and caught glimpses of her bliss.

God can be very tough-minded, yet His lessons are for our good. They’re a small price to pay for being able to live in an inner world of happiness and love.

For months, I had been feeling dry, spiritually. The faceplant brought an end to my gray mood. I realized that the emptiness in my heart was caused by not giving enough. I had prayed endlessly for God to let me feel His presence and bliss – but my prayers were about me, me, me – and they weren’t answered.

Only when I began to give, in whatever small ways I could, did I start to feel spiritually in tune again, knowing that God was pleased. I found renewed joy in serving my teacher’s work by singing his music, and by trying to give God’s friendship and kindness. The faceplant showed me: “See what happens when you think of yourself – and see what can happen when you awaken and laugh with God.”

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