"Six...minutes...until...home..." I told myself as I rounded the last corner toward my home. My morning run had been a tough one. I'd had to start talking myself into it the moment my alarm went off. Then every mile had to be gutted out and endured.
"Six...minutes...one step at a time...." as I climbed the last hill. Not all morning runs are like this. Not even most of them. Usually after the first mile is behind me I settle into a comfortable pace and relax a bit. Not today. For some reason, every step required effort.
Some days are like that in this life. Each step a difficult one. Every moment a battle of one size or other. The oatmeal gets burned and the juice is spilled then a school book is lost or a child's attitude that was sour to start the day only seems to grow sharper and more sullen as the day wears on.
When I find myself struggling with finishing a run or enduring a bad day, I've learned that it's a good idea to pay attention to how I'm breathing. As I run there is a pattern that I follow of breathing in for three strides and then breathing out for two. As the hills get steeper, I increase the number of breaths per the number of strides.
If my day begins to loose all civility it is also wise in that situation to check my breathing. Am I "huffing" about so that everyone knows I'm all bothered? Am I clinching my jaw and moving about ready to rain down the fiery breath of one who demands better things from her day and her family? It would be far better to find a pattern of slow deep breathing as life's hills approach.
Steady calm breathing has always been the best way to begin and will always be the wisest way to continue.
And, as always, it's so much easier to write about breathing deeply and slowly than it is to live breathing deeply, slowly. I know though from my uphill efforts that to breathe well is to make the hill possible. The same holds as I live in the world where I swap my running shoes for the flip-flops of everyday and the shiny pumps on Sundays.
Breathe. Deeply, slowly.
One breath at a time.