When everything seems chaotic and confusing in my life I love to run naked!
I admit it get’s tougher thanks to the 5 knee surgeries and other football related injuries that have slowed me down but when I get a chance to run naked…I do so without hesitation.
When I say run naked, I mean it figuratively!
I didn’t realize I actually loved running naked until I began training for my first marathon back in 2004!
As sports director for the local TV station, I was afforded many great opportunities including running a marathon as a member of the Team Diabetes project. My mom was diagnosed with diabetes and I thought it would be a great opportunity to honor her.
Mid-week training sessions were fairly predictable and social thanks to running with groups of like minded people.
However, the Sunday long run training session was often done solo! They are called 10 and 1’s. You jog for 10 minutes then walk/stretch for 1. I loved this approach because it gave me a chance to take advantage of the new found pliability I enjoyed once my body was warmed up. The run would cover a distance between 15-20 km.
Listening to music made the run manageable. I could tune out listening to The Doobie Brothers, the Downchild Blues Band, a New Jack Swing mix, Earth Wind and Fire and others.
I intentionally stayed away from Enya and Celine Dion for fear of breaking down into an emotional mess 2km in! After each run I would limp away, sore and hating the experience.
Truth is, I was not getting anything out of it.
I hated the military precision like preparation that went into each run.
Along with my ipod, I would wear a hydration belt with 4 containers for Gatorade and a pocket for my Advil. I lathered on the sunscreen, always wore a hat and sunglasses and kept time thanks to my Timex Ironman watch.
Looking back I have to admit I am surprised that I didn’t bring road flares! I did everything I could to survive the run rather than embrace and enjoy it.
The funny thing with 10 and 1 long run training sessions is something always seemed to go wrong and it always caught me off guard.
I would run out of Gatorade. I would forget to check the weather forecast. I would manage to wear the wrong running shoes and just go ahead anyway. I would forget to take my Advil an hour in advance of the run. The worst would be my ipod dying!
Of course, it usually occurred early in the run and I would be pissed off and have to mentally wrestle my way through the workout.
You would think I would know better what with my being a former professional athlete. That truth really pissed me off! Throw in the jealousy when I saw every runner out there seemingly finding their zone and being locked into their experience and I was not a happy camper.
After mentally kicking my own ass and blaming the world, I had to reframe the entire mission.
Truth is I had far too many things to do before I even left the house for the run.
I had to go naked! Good bye ipod. Good bye last minute preparations. It reminded me of the first 2 years of my professional football career. I was so worried about what could go wrong. I was driven by imminent failure rather than the confidence that comes with problem solving on the go and minimizing the burden we bare.
Running naked meant the world surrounded me.
The world embraced me and better yet, I was able to really listen to what my body and mind was trying to tell me. It was connecting to what the purpose of my run would be that morning. It wasn’t always the same purpose but it was of always of value.
The first thing I noticed when I ran naked was just how energizing the external noise was. I was distracted in a great way. I had left my Maxwell Smart Cone of Silence realm and now had to listen to everything. It’s amazing how much noise surrounds you when you think about it. By sorting out the noise I could slow things down.
I spent so much time trying to minimize the experience and getting it over with that I missed out on the real beauty of the experience.
All of the fears that I carried with me…fears that seemed so unpredictable were no longer part of the equation. I was able to create a controlled environment or at least minimize the number of factors and juggle them.
By doing so I learned that I would release happy hormones which made the run an even better experience. Serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins are famously happy hormones that promote positive feelings like pleasure, happiness, and even love.
A wonderful sense of clarity came to be. That is what running naked did for me.
I discovered a symbiotic relationship between my mind, heart, surgically reconstructed knee, old tendon and muscle injuries that created imbalance and tightness!
I would listen to my breathing pattern than take steps to control the pattern.
Once I was in my lane physically, I could then turn my attention to sorting out all of life’s luggage that I brought with me on the run.
I am coming up with new presentation ideas. I am plotting new solutions that were nowhere near my thought process 35 minutes earlier. I am becoming a better parent, entrepreneur, a better everything all because I chose to run naked.
So how does this apply to my work as a coaching + leadership consultant and team culture expert?
I learned not to be afraid to face the noise. By attacking the noise and the traffic, you can work your way to a clear express lane that offers new opportunities.
Your problems are never bigger than your purpose but you can never fulfill your purpose if you do not stare down your problems.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to take up running. There are a number of different ways for you to “go naked”. Once you figure out how to go naked, the real work can begin!
Ken Evraire is the owner | principal of TECTONIC TLC Team Lead Coach.
He is a quintessential team player who loves coaching, team building and talking leadership! He is grateful for the opportunity to work with a roster of fantastic clients ranging from the government sector, not for profit agencies, start ups, Fortune 500 companies and elite sports teams.
He is father to 3 precocious children, has the best ex-wife in the world, is a former professional football player that has since donated his brain. He has run 3x marathons (Honolulu 2x + Barcelona), done stand up comedy and believes the old school coach was wrong…there is indeed an “i” in Team!
Check Ken out on the following social media pages…