Finding Your Stride: Inspirations From American Pharoah

American Pharaoh via the Toroughbred Daily News

American Pharoah via The Thoroughbred Daily News

This past Saturday evening, while walking up Amsterdam Avenue to retrieve our daughter from a Minecraft Party, I noticed dozens of barflies spilling out onto the sidewalk from the Bourbon Street at 79th. All were hushed and captivated by the televisions behind the bar. The Belmont Stakes had just begun, and the favorite American Pharoah was out in front.

Being early for pick-up, I joined the crowd and immediately became transfixed on the leader. American Pharoah found a relaxed and steady stride that soon became hypnotic. He and jockey, Victor Espinoza, were undaunted by the fury. Appearing as floating ghosts; their inertia created a serene, effortless momentum that had the elegance of Michael Jordan driving to the basket or the flowing life force of a Tai Chi Master practicing Qigong. The two, entwined, seemed to be enjoying the feeling of freely running, akin to two young boys racing across a grassy field in Springtime – just to feel the wind.

I had beheld all of the greatest horses win the Triple Crown including Secretariat, but THIS was a special stride I had never seen before. As American Pharoah crossed the finish line, chills traveled up my spine. Watching this miraculous horse triumphantly run the race of his life was a “gift of the moment.”

American Pharoah

American Pharoah- The Thoroughbred Daily News

The first thought, at the conclusion of this magnificent performance, again was of THAT stride and how they held their lead with conviction. Once a leader feels right about a path or choice, they have to hold on to their convictions regardless of nay-sayers, eloquent advisors, and personal fears. When you are in your truth, you have no choice but to but to follow through unless circumstances change, then, of course, you have to adapt, modify, and possibly compromise.

The second thought was regarding the discipline that they both had had; to be zoned in and completely focused on timelessly traveling in their space – their personal and defined expanse.

This event caused me to think of countless lessons given to former students about discipline and creating momentum; to working with a child-like carefree pleasure while being engaged and involved.

American Pharoah via Wink News

American Pharoah via Wink News

Most of us know how “finding our stride” can feel. As we enter into a daily zone where; what we are passionately doing becomes simple enjoyment. A lightness of being elevates our soul.

Whether it’s work, a hobby, exercise, eating well or developing healthy sleep habits; there is a feeling of peacefulness to this routine that just flows freely and naturally. The sense of well-being is reward enough. It’s a state of delight and satisfaction.

But, what about the other times; when we fall out of this zone? Regret, remorse, and guilt may pile up. Connecting what we ought to be doing to what we are doing can seem improbable. It’s so much easier just to go grab a coffee or a beer, shop, phone a friend or any other diversion.

muleFor students with discipline issues, I would relate; “You have to pull the mule, and YOU are the mule!” Sometimes, our higher self has to tug on our lower self, for our own good. A Freudian would say that the super-ego has to dominate the id.

Regaining one’s stride is usually a 3-day affair. It requires real effort and determination; making yourself, forcing yourself to act. The first step is the most difficult.

Once the three-day trial is complete, the momentum created sustains an inertia for the fourth day to naturally continue the activated regimen. This pursuit can continue unimpeded for years.

However, if the practice is interrupted, due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, once again, Most of us will have the opportunity to revisit our undisciplined natures.

The secret is to let the routine develop naturally, without pressing or over-doing it. Try to intiate your routine each day at the same time. Be kind to yourself and strive for enjoyment.

Setting easily obtainable goals is the best and surest way to start something new or refresh a former practice or program.

If you want to get back into running. Start off by walking a comfortable distance. Over time, increase the distance, and then increase your speed. You can use a free app to keep track of your progress. If your joints can handle it, try jogging. If not, walking is a good enough exercise to keep you going well past the century mark.

American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza via The  New York Times

American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza via The New York Times


The bottom line is that forming healthy habits and routines are important for supporting a fuller and more enjoyable life.

Treat yourself to good days with good ways.

Find your stride.

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James Finn

Author: James Finn

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