The Nonrational Fitness Program

When I tested for the yellow belt in Kung Fu, there was a question we had to answer, “Why do you want to learn Kung Fu?” I wrote out a logical explanation but it really came down to one word, Intention.

The word means a determination to act in a certain way: resolve. After three years of Kung Fu, I think it is even more complex than this.

One of my Kung Fu classmates, also a runner, loaned me his copy of Dr. George Sheehan‘s book, Running & Being. As I have slowly made my way from chapter to chapter, I am discovering what a fascinating writer he was.

Chapter 5 is titled simply,  Becoming.

He proposes that there are two successful fitness programs. One is rational and the other nonrational, mystical and psychological. One is obligatory and the other voluntary. The first is successful because it is concerned with the result; the other because it is concerned with the process.

I seem to relate to Dr. Sheehan when he says, “My fitness program was never a fitness program. It was a campaign, a revolution, a conversion. I was determined to find myself. And, in the process, found my body and the soul that went with it.”

I become alive when I run. My heart sings. I am evolved into the person I want to be, the competitor I know I am.

When I try to apply this passion toward the plank, leg lifts, crunches, tiger presses…, not so much. I’m not feeling the intention. And, when we were learning the animal forms in Kung Fu these past few months, NO totally.

I don’t feel the passion for jumping across the room like a monkey, or a chicken or swallow. No, this is when intention takes effort.

So life seems to be full of diversity. On one hand, I find my passion and on the other side is effort.

The first article I ever wrote was about Lance Armstrong. It was published on, a Midwest Sports and Lifestyle blog. I drew parallels between the passion to win that drove Lance Armstrong to make certain decisions with his training and the passion that drives me to run.

A reader posted a comment to my article and said most runners he sees look like they are miserable but after reading my article he understood that maybe somehow they were actually enjoying themselves.

Actually, those runners may have been miserable. I understand the feeling.

I want to be a fearless warrior, but the effort that will get me there is not always something I’m ready to give.

I want to demonstrate smooth, effortless attacks – the way of the black belts in my class. But I’m only 5’2″ ,105 pounds. They assure me it is possible to attack with the vengeance of the best warriors, but I get discouraged.

It would be fair to ask, why would a woman of my age care to be a warrior?

Why would I push myself to transform into something that will take so much work, so much effort?

A little boy stopped me at the track today and asked if I run in those marathons. I said yes, I do. He said, “Do they let boys do that? Because I think I’d like to do that some day.”

I was flabbergasted….I wanted nothing more than for this little boy to go do exactly this.

I wanted the words that came out of my mouth to be just the words that would give him the intention to become what he wanted to become.

And it reminded me… I want to be a warrior.

The little boy said, “You must need big muscles to be a good runner.”  I saw him look at my arms when I said “No, you really don’t. You need to be willing to work hard, that’s all.”

In Kung Fu, I think intention comes from deep inside – as it does with anything you are to do well.

I will end with a thank you to my classmate for loaning me his book, and a quote from Dr. Sheehan:

And in life, you remember, it is not how long you lived, but how you played the game.

2 thoughts on “The Nonrational Fitness Program

  1. You are welcome for the Dr. S. loaner. I think he would have enjoyed your messages. I sure do. I wonder sometimes whether Dr. S would have considered himself a runner who writes or a writer who runs. I think in his case, one required the other. Maybe the same for you. Decades ago, my friends were spilt on whether I was a martial artist who ran or a runner who did martial arts. Today it is clear, but I am not sure if it is because of my efforts to train more in multiple arts or my struggles to save my running. Still expect PB’s in both. Following theme of your closing quote, I have one from another small framed warrior – “Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough, you must do.” – Bruce Lee.


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