(Note–I’m struck by how many directions my mind goes with nothing on this post yet but the title “Running.” It wants to go pretty much everywhere except where this post is headed: actually talking about running.)
Running and I go way back. We have a bit of a contentious past, but I don’t think you and I know each other well enough to discuss that just yet. Just know our history together was ugly for a long, long time.
A few years ago I decided to put an end to the hostility in our relationship. So, when a friend suggested that we run a half marathon in April, 2011, I cautiously jumped on board. It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t fast, but I did it. Demons conquered. At least until that same friend plus a beautiful mess of other friends and acquaintances needed an extra runner for a relay team in August of 2013. Being the sucker that I am, I jumped in at the last minute, and, as a result, had an amazing adventure and met some awesome people who will stay in my life for a long time to come.
Now, they’re at it again. No matter how many times I try to tell these people that I don’t LIKE to run and I don’t WANT to run anymore, they keep enticing me back. The current race is still tentative, but this morning I went on my first run since June, just to see if training for a race still felt possible.
Surprise surprise. I felt pretty good.
More importantly, however, out on my short run this morning, I realized that running truly could be, and in a way has been, a contemplative practice for me. I’m fairly certain this stems from my desire to think about anything OTHER than the fact that I’m running while I’m doing it–particularly on long runs. I know I’m supposed to focus on my breathing, my pace, and all that stuff that real runners care about. I, on the other hand, prefer to do whatever I can to help myself forget that I’m running.
That time gives me an an uninterrupted chance to focus on a topic or an issue that’s bothering me. One I haven’t devoted time to recently. Out on the road, I have nothing but time. I clearly do my best thinking and problem-solving when I’m moving. Makes sense, then, that whether I come up with a miraculous answer to a problem or not, spending my running time contemplating an issue or problem invariably leads to my feeling better about the situation post-run.
I really don’t want to turn my mindfulness practice into something to check off a to-do list, but this DOES allow me to kill two birds with one stone… And, as right now I seem to need some motivation to do both of these things… Maybe I’m on to something.