I have a standing joke with my roommate that when I go for a run, I am actually going for a “clomp.” It originated with a story that I told about my stride not exactly being the same between both foots, due to an old injury that I sustained from running into a UPS truck (more on that later) in high school. Apparently, a small fracture in one foot and years of inactivity can lead to relative irregularity in a running stride. My right foot is fine- a normal stride from heel to toe, but for a while my left foot refused to participate in that whole heel-to-toe business and would just land firmly on the ground in a CLOMP. My story produced a good laugh and a new verb. Now I no longer go for a run, but for a clomp.

This clomping thing is new for me, and I think I am only now becoming aware of its benefits and my successes in it. I have never been a runner or been interested in the sports that require any kind of stamina. (Soccer? Basketball? Cross-country?) I didn’t understand the allure of the experience in running,  the dedication that it required. I was a volleyball girl, a softball girl, where short spurts of energy were key and running was used to increase endurance in the interim. In the beginning, I had no illusions that I would suddenly be able to run a marathon (hell, a 5K is scary) and I was actually altogether afraid of beginning this running practice.

A sign on my computer at work that says “BREATHE” represents the lesson that diminished that fear and made me actually believe that a 5K was possible. It is a lesson that comes in handy when I am trying to rush through a difficult task there. And it is applicable here as well as in my newly begun yoga practice. Breathing is central in both activities and crucial for success. Focusing on breath, I’m learning, is what gets you through.To come from clomping and breathing laboriously after only 60 seconds of running to now running (full strides!) much further and longer than that is a testament to the way my body is strengthening through consistent, focused activity.

As I was running today I wondered how many other parts of my life are defined by an inconsistent clomp and an unfair expectation of being able to achieve without slow, gentle persistence. The answer is that almost every area of my life seems rushed and unfocused. I am glad that there are things like running to remind me to stop, breathe, and focus.