Thirteen point one. That’s how many miles I ran yesterday with my husband in a local half marathon. As my feet pounded on that pavement, one foot in front of the other, I realized that there is no point in counting down the miles that are left as I hit each marker. Because until you are at mile 8, the number of miles left is daunting. So you have to take it one step at a time. One breath in and another out. You have to learn to settle in and enjoy the ride.
I’ve been a runner since high school and although it may have been my motivation at one point, numbers on the scale is not what gets me to clock seven, eight, or nine miles. Running, like the Good Word, sets you free. It is designed to let us tune into our natural instincts, set our feet on the ground beneath us, and allow ourselves to go forward. Fast. Slow. Paced. But going forward none the less. And as my husband and I took one step after another this weekend, I was reminded of the reason that I run. I run because it reminds me to take life in the same way I conquer the long distances; one step at a time, remembering to breathe, and that when I get to those hills-I keep my eyes only a few feet in front of me.
Our training is over, but like a true runner at heart, I can hardly wait to get in my Vibrams again and go for a long run. I know my body needs at least one day of rest (according to the advice from the pros, maybe even a week…or two) but rest is not something that I am necessarily good at. Chip still naps and I am so grateful because it’s a few hours each day that I’ve had to learn the art of resting. It’s a discipline that I’ve really had to teach myself over the past two years and I’ve gone from being a person that got little to no sleep and hardly did anything for fun, to a person who needs to rest and recharge in order to preserve my sanity.
My times of rest aren’t necessarily times of sleep, but of exploring and doing things that are life giving and cultivate joy. And on one of these moments of rest, I made a shake. My feet had just finished pounding the pavement on yet another long run, and I wanted something sweet, yet life giving. So chocolate, although desired, would not rejuvenate my body. But it was nature’s candy (dates!) that did the trick.
And those dates turned out to be a good choice on many levels. The sweetness they provide matches perfectly with the coconut milk and fall spices of this smoothie. It’s a genuine sweetness that’s not contrived, altered, or fake. It’s a natural and free flavor in which I’m reminded that we all are at our best when we are ourselves. And after doing a bit of researching about the food that I was consuming (and feeding my family), I found a quality about dates that reinforced my discipline to rest.
You see, the date tree takes it’s time before it produces any fruit. Anywhere from four to eight years in fact. It grows, strengthens, and waits until the timing is just perfect before it shows it’s sweetness to the world. It’s patient, and even goes through four stages of ripeness each with their own unique qualities, both good and bad. At what stage they are picked depends on who is eating it, of course. And after they begin producing fruit, they will continue to do so for the next ten years.
And while I’m absolutely not waiting four to eight years until I run again, I am remembering that there is something to be said about gaining strength and taking time to rest. Because when I do, my next run is always stronger. My feet remain one in front of the other, but the power behind them is that much greater. I run with a new excitement, and my stamina not only in the moment, but in the months of training ahead is much, much greater. I am stronger. I am rested. I am free. And the success of each race is just that much sweeter.
Date Nut Smoothie
Yield: 2 smoothies
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, or any nut milk will do
5 (or more) dates, pitted (The number of dates you put in here will determine how sweet your smoothie is,)
1/2-1 teaspoon nutmeg (depends on how much spice you want)
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon (again, depends on how much spice you want)
4-6 ice cubs
Pit the dates by making a small but downy he middle and removing the seed. Place all ingredients in the blender, with the milk on the bottom and the ice on the top and blend according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you have a frozen banana that will work as well. My blender is a BlendTex blender so the date were not chunky. If your blender is not as powerful, just simply chop the dates up into small pieces before putting them in the blender. Enjoy!