Geert is an old friend and ex-colleague of mine. We've played music together, and philosophized many a long hour over self-awareness and development, spirituality, human conditioning... and the lot, challenges and destinies of the individual.
But we've never done any sport together - and that's my fault.

Geert is a man of routine - without it he doesn't evolve. Routine in his sport, routine in his work, routine in his music practice... He says he has no talent, and only through routine, constant practise and determination can he develop his abilities to a level that looks like talent.
I'm a man of improvisation - and according to Geert I do have talent. But I don't have the routine. He's been trying to get me out on one of his weekly runs for the last 15 years, but I've always found excuses why it wasn't important or necessary enough for me... or that I just didn't have the time.

Until now.  Now I have no excuses. On the contrary, now I have more than enough reasons to want to go running. So we made an appointment, and met up at 2 o'clock in the afternoon on the 5th January, and we ran together around one of his favourite routes in the forest of Amsterdam.

The route is about 10  kilometers, longer than I'm capable of (or used to) running non-stop. But Geert wasn't out to test me, or to show off. We ran slowly, relaxed, no pressure, unstressed... and interspersed the running with short walking breaks. And we talked of running, of his new "barefoot" technique and new running shoes, of his marathon training and experience 15 or so years ago. We talked about my lifestyle changes and physical ambitions, and of the Shapeshifter training that has so miraculously and quickly improved my condition that I'm able to join him on this run.

Our first run together - but not our last. Geert has a lot of intensely fascinating things to say about the way we think and feel and do... and he practises what he preaches in everything he does -  including his running, his life, his interaction with others, his work, his music, his discovery-of-self and his "life-themes"...

I plan to feature him in more depth in a later post - discuss running and life more deeply with him. His insights are illuminating, his logic irrefutable, his humor confronting, and his methods persistently effective. You don't just run with Geert...
I don't run.
I tried running a year ago and gave up after 5 days.
I made progress in those 5 days, building from a laughable 200 meters the first day, to over 3 km by the fifth. If I'd continued, I would have been running marathons by now - but I stopped, it didn't fit in with my lifestyle routine, I couldn't make it a priority.
Haven't run since.

This morning I was up at 7am. Dark outside, cold and damp, city still waking up. And I felt the urge to run again.

I don't have to look for reasons anymore - or excuses. I don't have to fit exercise into my lifestyle - after 4 weeks training with Shapeshifter, exercise is becoming a major part of my lifestyle. Exercise and physical activity has become a new passion - I even set up this site and this blog so I can share my adventure into the physical... to discover just what I'm capable of.

Running (along with the handstand pushup project) is one of the ways I want to test how Shapeshifter has benefitted me. So, running shoes on, out into the dark morning, and run.

Five kilometers... first time out. As if I'd just taken up where I left off a year ago. This is astounding for me. I'd expected a couple of kilometers at most, but 5! Clearly, my endurance level, and leg strength have grown immensely in the last 4 weeks - and since I haven't done any other form of exercise, this has to be down to the Shapeshifter workouts. And if I already have the condition to run 5 km, how far will I be able to run in another 2 weeks?

This is great news for me, because one of my future dreams is to run a marathon - I'm already 5 km closer to that dream. And if the Shapeshifter program can condition me so well for this activity, it's going to be fun discovering what else I can tackle. Stay tuned, it's going to be a fascinating year.

Update, 2nd run, Jan 2nd 2012
Just to check that it wasn't a fluke, I did another 5 km run. Now I need (and want) to start increasing my distance - kilometer for kilometer. Would be nice if I can get to the point where running is as relaxing and meditational for me as walking.

Update, 3rd run, Jan 5th
Running with Geert... read full post here.

Update, 4th run, Jan 6th
I heard about a running route here in the Amsterdam "Vondel Park" that stages a mass event each year. Now the Vondel park is a popular location for many and I see them everyday running circles around the park, in both directions, like people who are trying to get somewhere in a hurry but have forgotton exactly where they have to go... so they just keep running.
This morning I joined the ranks of the jogging zombies.

The Vondel park is 3.3 kilometers if you measure the outer-route, and if you run the event you have to do three laps - it's a small marathon - more for fun than competition.

I was really curious to see how far I could do, after yesterday's run with Geert. So I rose early and was out the door by 6am. Dark, cold, wet and windy - but that's not a problem once you start running.

The first round was ok - I focussed on short, relaxed strides, and tried not to think about how long I needed to run before I could stop. It's a fairly big park when you're strolling through it - smaller when you cycle through it... seems much bigger though when you're wanting to run around it. By the end of the route I was getting tired and wondered if a second round was possible. But I ran on, and then I adjusted to a longer stride at the same tempo, and focussed on my breathing technique (breathe out fully and let the fresh air come rushing in). Surprise!... I was half-way round before I knew it, and when I finally got close to the end/start point, I really didn't feel any more tired than after the first round - except I knew I wouldn't make a third.

It was nice to stop at this point. 6.6 kilometers. Next time 3 rounds. I'm getting to like this running lark.

Update Jan 25th
It's been a while since the last update - but that doesn't mean I haven't been running. I've done my familiar routes a few times, but now I keep it to 1 or 2 times a week.

These routes are getting easier and easier. I'm not busy trying to increase my distance or speed - just being able to do the same with less effort. On one run I had last week, I experienced for the first time a sort of "flow". When I'm walking I'm in this flow - I can walk for hours and let my mind wander - it's a meditation thing. I always wondered if I could reach that same flow while running - I imagine that would be fantastic.

Well, I think I touched on it last week. At a certain point during my run, I realized that I wasn't aware anymore of the effort my body was going through to keep me moving - my mind was wandering - everything else was on automatic... I had the feeling I could run forever.

Of course I couldn't run forever, but it was a promising experience.

Today I was out at 7am. I ran Geert's route through the forest. Again, only about 5 or 6 km without stopping. I walked a short distance before running again, but this time I tried some sprinting - 100meter sprints followed by walking, then another sprint.

This is something I'll be experimenting with more soon. I'm not yet ready for a marathon - and it's not yet a priority to start training for one. But I have achieved something of great importance to myself... I can run. I've built up a habit, and running is now part of my lifestyle. With this regularity, My continued stamina is assured - and that will come in useful during other pursuits.

I won't be posting anymore updates to this post... I don't need to. But I will keep running. When I start a new project involving running, you'll here of it on this blog.