Relax Your Face – Running Life Lesson #8
One of the first things I recommend to any runner is to learn to relax your face. Do you ever notice the faces of Olympian sprinters on television when there is a replay of their race in slow motion? It’s almost comical to watch as their faces seem to melt off as they push towards the finish line. They look like this because they have been properly coached to release all of the tension from their faces, but why?
It is impossible to run your best if your body is tense. It starts in your face, works through your shoulders and arms and down to your legs. When you run tense, you constrict your lungs and don’t get the optimal amounts of oxygen flowing through your body. When you are tense, you constrict your muscles, which shorten your stride thus not getting the most of your body’s potential. Finally, when you run with tense muscles, your body will fatigue prematurely resulting in a subpar run and frustration.
So it all starts with your face. When you run relaxed in your face, it percolates throughout the rest of your body and allows you to run with optimal form. A calm and relaxed runner is a confident runner and ultimately faster runner.
Our daily lives are not much different. When we our tense as we approach our tasks, then we constrict our workflow and creativity. This leads to frustration, fatigue and strained relationships at work and at home. I often have to remind myself to relax at the start of my day and to intentionally allow myself to get into a rhythm.
Now I must admit, this is probably one of my greatest struggles. I can run relaxed all day, but often struggle to relax in my work and home life. I can tell when I’m not relaxed just by the way my family interacts with each other. If my family is tense at dinner, it’s usually because I have been tense myself. Sometimes, I can take myself a little too seriously with even the most mundane tasks and have to remind myself to slow down, relax and get back into an appropriate rhythm and flow. The key for me is to recognize when I am tense and have measures set in place to ensure I stay relaxed.
Here are a few tips that I use every day to keep myself relaxed:
- Quiet time – I allow myself about 30 minutes of quiet time each morning before I get up. My alarm goes off at 5:00 am, but I don’t allow myself to get out of bed until 5:30 am. I use that 30 minutes to set my mind right and prepare myself for the day. It is my “relax your face” moment.
- Write – I spend the first hour of my day writing. I write on my blog, in a journal, and play around with some fiction. This is a relaxing task that allows me to get my creative juices going. It’s kind of like warming up before a race!
- Exercise – I work out for at least for one hour, six days a week. I usually do this in the morning or at lunch time. Exercise is necessary to keep you healthy, and is an excellent way to get the blood circulated in your body and to renew your mind.
- Pray – Spending time with the Lord is essential for me in that He guides every facet of my life. Not connecting with Him is like not plugging in my iPhone. Prayer has a way of keeping your life in the proper perspective.
- Reading – I try to read for at least 15 minutes a day. It really does not matter what it is, as long as you are in the habit of exercising your brain.
- Healthy Relationships – We are interactive beings. I make an effort to relate with my family in a way that is memorable and meaningful. I do this through activities and active listening. We make a point to have family dinners almost every night. For you, it may be close friends; the point is to be intentional with your relationships and to associate with people that will have a positive impact on your life.
Life is just like a race. It can be intense, it can be hard, and it takes incredible effort to compete well and to finish strong. In order to get the best from yourself, you must learn to “run your life” relaxed. Are you relaxed?