Health and Fitness

I will try to be a good runner like my friends David and Dean. Here is a photo of my second race. 

I have an excellent life that is full of good and sensible elements. But my inexcellent body sometimes brings me down and I get too focused on it. My health is always on my mind. Each breathing space of good health feels like sunshine to my brain cells, when it is all working in harmony. It is my chance to be with others in a place of balance and strength. When I feel trapped in a dark cloud, a black tunnel, or the path of a tornado, my dogs are my companions and friend-makers. They ground me, comfort me and connect me to the here and now. With Amy or Yukon in my life, I am never alone.

This is a poem about how I feel when I'm unwell:

After the Storm
My body is tossed and turned
like a garden during a tornado
when I am struck by the internal storms
that pass through me from time to time.
The bits and pieces strewn everywhere
and vines entangled with no rhyme or reason.
I have to unfold my thoughts and order them
like straightening out the rows of peppers
and lettuce and cucumbers.

Before the storm I know it is coming
like a weather vane pointing
in the direction the wind is blowing

and then I have to duck under the covers
until it passes me by.
My body crawls out
wrecked and mangled and needing
teams of gardeners to clean up the mess.

I feel a sense of relief that it is over
and I can clean things off
and get back to the business of life.
I need a rake and a shovel
and a wheelbarrow to haul it away
and I need your help
to stake my body up again
and braced for the next storm.
AB 11 Jul 2012

This is how running has helped me: 

Running for Health and Joy
In the late summer of 2009, one of my friends who is also a health professional suggested I take up running. Because of her own experience she thinks that stimulating my endorphins by vigorous exercise could be the best way for me to clear away the bad stuff that fogs and clouds my perceptions for weeks before a seizure, and also could even prevent the seizures. I built up my running muscles and endurance with my exercise trainer. Two wonderful running buddies have accompanied me during the past 18 months, and I am happy to run right through our winter.

George and I on a run together

One adjustment I have had to make is from not running at all to knowing that running with self-control is OK. When I was a child and teenager, I could run (or bolt) very fast when I wanted to clear my head, but nobody else knew where I had gone, which was a great worry. For the past 24 years, I have had a succession of Golden Retrievers at home, and I have always held on to their leashes for walks. They steady my balance and sense of direction. So I have learned to walk rather than run, and to feel that the dogs are my anchor. Now George is helping me adjust to running by myself, while the dogs stay home and are eager to see me return. I do feel very good after a run and I sleep better too. There are lots of other times to walk with the dogs!

Andrew the Runner, Man of Peace
(16 Oct 2009)
Running is a way for me
to go with my feelings.
I think it helps clear my head
for good thinking.
Yes, running is an avenue to freedom for me.
It is a great way to make connections
with new people,
and that connects me with myself
more as well.

I feel like Andrew who runs,
not Andrew who is an autistic man.

I am free from the stress
of the sounds of home
and the hum of the world.
I just feel the sounds
of my own body and spirit.
Running is peaceful and calming for me.

I can free myself from all worries
and just run towards
the lightness of feeling
close to nature and God.

I feel a sense of being freed
from all things that restrict me.
I am running to me.
I feel so much better as a person
with the ropes of autism broken from me.

I am Andrew the runner.
I am Andrew who has hopes and dreams.
Andrew the runner,
now closer to being free and just me.

I am feeling inspired to share this
with my Bridges friends,
so they can also be free from the ropes,
and just be who God intended them to be-
I think then people will accept us more
if we accept ourselves.

Running gives me a sense of peace,
that you can only achieve
through loving yourself
and the wonderful creation you are.
I am running towards this person,
Andrew the runner.

I am Andrew the runner.
I love feeling this peace.
I can only run faster and harder
to find the runner in me.
Then I will be at peace.

I am Andrew the runner.
I want to run fast and furious.
I am challenging myself to be
a man of full potential,
and that includes my peace.

I am running to me.
I am Andrew the runner.

I am a Runner
(18 February 2011)
I am able to run.
I am on my way to new things.
I feel the confidence in my steps.
I feel the air on my face
bringing me new life and breath.
I need these new ideas to feel alive.

When I run I am going someplace.
I am feeling exhausted and
refreshed at the same time,
releasing my energy and
feeling full of enthusiasm.

It is a way to express myself
without support
and I am in control.
A gentle reminder and call
from a fellow runner
gives me the nudge to keep going.
I run to feel my freedom
and I feel able to do what I need to.

I run to get someplace
to feel I can.
I am on my way to new things.
I run to get there.
I get there fast.
I feel full of peace upon my return.
I am a runner! 

Getting the dogs a drink upon returning home from a run