Life changing experience: Fizkultura running conference (episode 1)


Two weeks already after taking part in the Fizkultura running conference in Sofia, Bulgaria and, as sober as I can get considering the time that passed, I can say that attending this event transformed me in such a way that I know for sure things will never be the same.
I was there for 5 days and, just like after my first run, I felt immediately that I stepped into a new dimension of my life.
Because I am very enthusiastic, passionate and sometimes burning at a very high flame, I first wanted to see if it is only a temporary excitement, so I waited for some time before writing anything about it. A kind of a reality check, having myself as a first beneficiary, before sharing anything of how it was for me. Truth and living up to my heart are very important for me in how I choose to live my life, therefore everything I let out about my experiences must pass the test of truth.

In Bulgaria I have lived a paradox. I had the privilege to be a speaker at the same event event with giants in their field of activity such as Dean Karnazes, Ian J Corless, Sean Conway, Boyan Petrov and two amazing ladies: Antonia Grigorova and Dimitrina Sivkova.  The paradox is that the people I’ve met, and I will refer to the first three in this article, touched me deeply not with their absolutely impressive and mind blowing physical and mental achievements for any individual belonging to the human race, but with their behavior. Humbleness, care, full attention to the others’ needs, soul grace, heart refinement and delicacy were qualities that I’ve seen in each interaction I had during those 5 days. And every single gesture was so genuine and effortless, it was natural!

I was there by a mix of fate, chance and ever-present passion and love for running. The official presentation said though that the reason for my presence there was running a marathon in 2 hours 59 minutes and running twice 7 Ultramarathons in 7 Consecutive Days while I still was a full time employee in a top Bank in my country.
But now, looking back, I think I was there for a different purpose. I needed a change and I was allowed to see and feel where that change should lead me!
It was not about gaining more ambition, working harder, or setting higher standard targets! I have enough of these in my life already and I’m happy with how things are in this respect.
It was about learning to focus my attention on the things that matter by changing the attitude towards the things that didn’t matter. And I will explain.

It happened to me lately that, when I was challenged, I was allowing my focus to melt away by spending energy on what people thought of me. Although otherwise very independent, when something I wrote, I did or I was, was questioned or labeled as not being authentic, for example, I was answering back and entering a spiral of sometimes negativity or bad energy, in an attempt to justify my own being to people who, because they were not yet ready for the experience I was sharing, were thinking that what I’m sharing is not real.

What happened to me me during these 5 days in Bulgaria, was that I did not encounter any negativity, at all, whatsoever. So, besides enjoying the experience to the fullest, I deeply felt that I want to live in positivity every single day, not only occasionally. So that’s what I did ever since. I’m good at fighting back and, with a very short reply, I can produce a huge impact when someone tries to irritate me. Doing this gave me during the time some adrenaline rush which was making me feel good from my ego’s point of view immediately as I was fighting back. But I was feeling in the same time empty, because that “high” was not for the right reasons. I don’t consider behaving like this anymore. I’m not interested  in fighting back and I have no satisfaction from it anymore; instead, I direct my thoughts to what I want to build and how I can translate opposition in such way to reach consensus, if possible.
I think sport develops in us the mentality of a fighter. However, the better you become in sport, the more you realize how important every drop of energy really is and wasting it on things that are not useful is definitely not an option. Let alone that nothing else but sportsmanship should govern the attitude of any athlete.

So, just by having the chance to be among people who are extremely special in all ways a human being can be, I have developed a state of being that I wanted to feel again, so I became like that myself. And acting this way feels now effortless and natural, becoming a “home” feeling for me, a home where I go to every day, from the moment I wake up until I go back to sleep. It is a state and not a place, so I can have it with me anytime and anywhere.

“Home sweet home”: the lucky ones have one, I now discovered my third!

There is something about that home feeling of being near the one(s) that makes you feel safe, protected and loved. It is not a place, it is a state of belonging that is indissolubly connected to happiness. That’s the home most of the people experience, the lucky ones. I also had this privilege. It was my second home in a chronological order. Once you feel it, it always belongs to you, it is continuously shaping your being and your character. It is called love.

My first home in time lapse was not a place either. It was the most constant thing in my life. It always felt like freedom and it always made me feel alive, happy and optimistic about the future. My second home was always with me ever since I was fifteen. It is called running. And if a snail carries its house under the shape of shell, I carry mine with me almost all the time, under the shape of a pair of running shoes: I run more than I walk.

I didn’t imagine it could exist something else that could could give me a feeling similar to any of the two above, but it does.
I discovered this energy I mentioned also above, that feels like a third home for me:
a place where I felt I belong, not because I was worthy of being there, but because people with the most amazing achievements, who understood the passion and efforts I invested until now in running, allowed me to see a bit of their worlda world in which the attitude towards the others is of sharing, learning, respect, passion for running and support;
a place where I felt free, happy and inspired to grow into a better self.
Since there is no word for this energy where people who share a common strong passion for running treat each other with such care and respect, as if we were all part of a big family, I will call it extended running family bliss.

Nelson Mandela was once saying that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.
I totally felt the spirit of this quote during my 5 days stay in Sofia thanks to the people I had the chance to meet and spend time with. And I will let you know more about it in my next post.
Until then, “run strong”!

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