As a sprinter years ago, I began exploring different ways of running. I read books, watched film, and experimented with the experts do's and don'ts of human acceleration. Taking personal notes during the process, I experienced how heavy my body felt when I would improperly position my arms. Certain ways of attempting to move forward, simply put, just made me tired as soon as my internal starting gun went off. Taking it a step further and moving my experiment from turf to the actual track, my legs seemed to have a mind of their own, weaving in and out of my lane if I didn't think when I ran. Without fail, if I simply allowed myself to run free it added time to my run time.
Here I am today-trackless and turf-less-certainly no longer holding the title of sprinter...So, what's the point?
Not surprising at all, I have found that the same lesson applies to life.
Moving through life with bad form does little more than add difficulty and unnecessary seconds to your journey.
Without a proper explanation, some may offer up the challenge that using 'bad form' to describe someone's approach is judgmental so let's think about this:
You see, bad form can be anything that YOU try to implement, perpetuate, or initiate that goes against the natural operation of YOURSELF. No one else is part of YOUR running form. You cannot blame YOUR bad form on anyone else because YOU are the only one that has power to adjust it.
As I matured as a runner, I learned this lesson and applied it in every race that I ran. Soon after my discovery, I quickly found a position for my arms as they moved from front to back that didn't make them feel heavy or awkward. I learned how to change the position of my head, eyes and shoulders in a way that accommodated my speed and motion. Even how my foot rolled off of the track changed as I began to peel back the layers of what was preventing me from being the best sprinter I could be. Finally, I got to a point in my skill that every time I stepped on the track to run, I knew the body-position combination that would make me a competitive athlete.
You may not be a runner-athletics may not even be on your radar, but honey, it's time to mature your form. You have to think when you run. It's time to improve our 'bad forms' so that we can begin to uncover exactly what we need to do to move us to where we are supposed to be. Many of us embark on our daily 'run' through life looking at the form of others. We try to mold ourselves into imitations of what we see instead of doing the work to discover who we are supposed to be. By doing so, we add confusion and unnecessary stress to our lives while we simultaneously wonder why it seems as if we are going nowhere.
Take a bit of time to do a 'self-study'. Look at your current form. Does it make you tired? Does it seem awkward every time you attempt to move forward? Then, ask yourself: Is my form even mine?
The beauty in this process is that even if the answer to that question is "no", you don't have to go back to the starting line. Wherever you are, take some time to uncover your most authentic and effective form. It may feel different at first, but that's okay! If you allow yourself to adjust, you will begin to see that every time you step on your life's 'track', you will no longer waste time running someone else's race.
*Dedicated to the legacy of Coach William P. Moultrie.