The B-A-L-A-N-C-E Beam

I remember the pink leotard that I wore with the diagonal turquoise stripes. It was very 80s. It had short, puffy sleeves, high cut legs and a scoop neck. I was 11. I was a tall, chubby girl and I took gymnastics. My fav apparatus? The balance beam.

To mount the beam, I would jump up so that my arms were straight and my hips were touching the side of the beam. I kicked one leg over and sat on the beam with my knees bent and my toes pointed on the beam, then, grabbed the beam in front of my toes to stand up. The key? Balance. To help maintain balance you focused your eyes on the end of the beam. I would add too that you had to have control of your center of gravity. The good news for me was that I had spotters and the skills I was learning kept me relatively safe.

There are many tools in the fitness world today that are used to challenge balance: bosu ball, exercise ball, balance board and even a rolled up towel. You can purposely put your body OUT of balance so that you can improve your balance. Most of the time, it is my emotional balance that is challenged.

I’m getting ready to start training for Zion 100K (62 miles). There will be doubt, darkness, adventure, hunger, thirst, fun, tears, smiles. . . gotta have balance, gotta be centered. I have a plan. I have a routine. I will practice it over and over. I know what I need to do to get there. I know what I need to do to execute. There will also be stress.  I am prepping to train my body to run long, longer, longest.  I need to center myself and prepare to practice balance.

I have decided that life is a constant bombardment of stressors that I am challenged to keep in balance. They definitely ‘ebb and flow’. I do have control over how much ‘ebb and flow’. I just finished reading a book about running by Dr. Phil Maffetone, called The Maffetone Method The Holistic, Low-Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.  In chapter 2, Exercise and Stress, he suggests making a stress list, listing your physical, chemical and emotional stress on one sheet of paper.  Once your list is made, break that down into two columns, A (stress you can control) & B (stress you cannot control). I love this definition of stress from an article by “Psychology Today” online.

Stress is simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In other words, it’s an omnipresent part of life.

Stress disturbs our balance. I am not sure why, at 43, I am discovering the importance of less stress and more balance, but I am. I think what I ask myself to do as a runner is tough. It can offset the balance of my household, the balance of my health, the balance of my mind. I’m going to make a list. I am going to circle the biggest 3 on my “A” list (per Dr. Maffetone). I think that might be where I land for now. Maffetone suggests work on improving those or eliminating them altogether. I think I will do well to list them and circle the big 3.

So, B-A-L-A-N-C-E. . .  keeping in mind that my point of reference for balance may be completely different than the next person.




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