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It Is What It Is

I usually post a brief update to Facebook and Twitter about each run as evidence of my “practice”. Each update highlights the intent of the run and which form focuses I am working on. But those updates have been very limited the past few weeks because … I have not run much in the last few weeks. In early September, I was on target to run 2200+ miles this year and to be well prepared for an important November ultra marathon. But I had to take a break from running, the first real break in many years and for good reason.

The break came because:

  • I could feel my energy was very off. It was low and variable day to day.
  • I was experiencing aches/cramping shifting across my body for no reason. This was sort of like a power grid flickering the lights which dimmed were I was the weakest or out of balance the most.
  • I could feel my gait was being thrown off.

My habit would normally be to push through these challenges with my event coming up. But my instinct said to back off and assess what all of this meant. My waking pulse increased from an average of 40 to 48 and my heart rate variation was decreasing suggesting I should rest. See the image below showing my average HRV (blue line) dip.

Resting has turned out to be the right decision and a very valuable time in my life. The break turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. So what was behind the break? In short I was very off balance in a number of ways and it took some time to self-correct. Specifically:

  • During the summer my physical diet became too ‘yin’. With the hot muggy weather, I shifted too much to cooling foods. Healthy, quality food but out of balance.
  • My mental focus was very ‘yin’, meaning it was so focused on my goals with little time to just be. I was ‘on’ constantly.
  • More importantly, my mental diet became too ‘yin’. Since early this year I was challenged in a number of ways, the issues were weighing on me; and I allowed them to build up and take me negative. During the summer I remember acknowledging my disposition and told myself to let these things go … “or it was going to make me sick.”
  • And, of course, my mental diet was affecting my physical diet. I started reaching for quick energy foods which further added to the imbalances.

If you remember … yin is cold, bitter, stiff, heavy and lacks energy (ie. a rock) and I was that in so many ways. The result, I recoiled; and I chewed on the issues without getting enough support and perspective.

The value comes in the lesson I needed to hear loud and clear. It is a lesson the universe has been trying to teach me for a long time. It tried to teach me this lesson nicely before but I had resisted. So it decided to take some very important areas of my life and flip them upside down to get my attention.

In ChiRunning, the concept of “Needle in Cotton”  suggests alignment through and movement from *our* center. The concept is that the more aligned you are and the more you originate movement from your center, then the more relaxed your extremities can be to deal with the external. Often the key for many people is finding their center first, then developing balance over this new body sense. If any external force is coming at you, the best way to deal with that force is to be soft when dealing with it or just let it go by. Use the force to your advantage if you can, but negate any negative effect on you. The life example is an abrasive or disrespectful personality coming at you. Again, usually the best way to deal with it is to just let them go by. If you can’t let them go by, then deal with them softly.

My issue was that I was resisting just letting some things go by. I mistakenly associated these things with *my* center when they were so external to me and had nothing to do with who I am. The lesson is that I have to clearly define and find *my* center; and to focus my energy and effort moving my center forward in balance. And just let the rest go by.

During this time the universe was helping me unravel the lesson piece by piece. First, someone posted this status update:

I had see this quote before. But this time I interpreted it differently:

  • I noted that really healthy food out of balance is still not good nutrition.
  • I remembered that nutrition is both physical and mental. Chew on something you perceive as negative long enough and it will likely make you sick … AND you can’t out-train or outrun it. You have to deal with it or decide to let it go by.

Second, I was reminded of the Four Agreements and my friend #2 below jumped out at me … “Don’t take things personally.” Guilty as charged.

Third, Dr. Wayne Dyer added in a few nuggets of wisdom. In particular:

“Be aware of the fact that everyone [and every challenge] who comes into your life, in any capacity, is valuable. The petty tyrants are just as divine as those who provide you with the encouragement and support. They may be divine masters disguised to teach you something that you did not know you had to learn.” -Wayne Dyer, #68 of 101 Ways to Transform Your Life.

So where I am now? Well, the universe just played me a little smackdown. By taking things I am passionate about, throwing me curveballs, letting me stew in it, letting it affect my running and health, and hoping I will finally get the message. Often the lessons with the most personal consequences are the most valuable. In this case I am not likely running my important November ultra marathon. One because it is probably not wise physically after losing a few weeks of training time. But more importantly because I need that consequence to make sure I don’t forget this lesson. My center is now more clearly defined, I am creating balance around it and I am clearly more aware of who gets to interact with it. I am adding back some workouts and runs gradually; and noticing more how I feel and I think now that the sensitivity has been bumped up.

Bottom line, it is always what it is. The sooner we acknowledge that, assess the causes and work to address them – the sooner we move forward with more experience. In this case, my computer is now running new software and those flickering lights have now helped me focus on my weaknesses and imbalances. I can already feel yet another level of strength and stability, both physically and mentally.

Well played, universe, well played. Remember it is all connected on so many levels, so be very careful what you think about …


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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach – and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor.  For more information on David, please see his About MeContact page or his website at

ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.


Posted on Wednesday, Oct. 24th 2012 10:20 AM | by echifitness | in All, Nutrition, Wellness | 4 Comments »

4 Comments on “It Is What It Is”

  1. brenda gibson Says:

    Great post,David. I love the way you think things through and your approach to life. I found many take-aways from your post. Thanks.

  2. echifitness Says:

    Thank you for your comment Brenda. Great to hear you found it useful.

  3. marilyn mitchell Says:

    It was a great post, David. I, too, picked up some great take-aways!I hope you get back to what you love to do quickly, joyfully and effortlessly!

  4. echifitness Says:

    Thank you for your comment. I am back to it with a new mindset; particularly now after Sandy hit my state.


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