Posts by: Sue Aquila

The Practice of Present-Moment Awareness

******One of the most important interior relational practices for any of us is that of present-moment consciousness. Few activities challenge this interior management exercise like long-distance sport. In the following blog, Sue Aquila, an elite Iron Man Triathlete and coach and member of the Storywarrior Institute, addresses the practice.

For the last five years, I have been on the journey of a long course triathlete. How long The events I enjoy involve 140.6 miles self propelled (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run).

The most precious present of this journey is the connection I feel with the universe in all forms; my body, my heart, my brain and the unknown. To truly connect to this experience, I must be present.

Here are some of my favorite ways to be present in an 11+ hour event:

  • Associate. You will read lots of articles where people talk about getting through their work out by disassociation. During a race, the last thing I want to do is disassociate. I pay attention to my associators (Dr. Jack Raglin, Runnersworld) which allow me to monitor and adjust at all times.
  • Mantra. I have a simple phrase that powers and centers me just like meditation. Some have included; Pain is only temporary, pride is forever. Running towards my dreams. Fit, Fast, Focused.
  • Temporary. I remember that all states are temporary. If I am tired, I will take in some caffeine, if I am angry or sad I will eat some calories. If I feel great, I will remember to keep drinking, eating and stay the course. Keeping in mind that all is temporary keeps you from getting too low or too high and keeps you engaged in the NOW.
  • Parts. I break my races into small chunks. The marathon is really four 10k races plus a bit. The parts are doable and the whole can be overwhelming.
  • Conversations. I talk to dead people. Specifically Zachary whose image graces I thank him for being in my life, for the lessons, for the love and for his support. I wear his stem cell transplant bracelet to remind me that we race together. He provides me with some words of support or an opportunity to show me he is listening.

As a Mom, partner and business owner, I find the lessons of triathlon serve me well in my other roles. I use and receive the presents of being present.

Sue Aquila is a USAT Level 1 coach who balances her ironman training with running a successful business that she built from the ground up. She blogs regularly at You can also follow her on Twitter @fewoman.

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