So what are your thoughts on running? When I was a beginner, doing track in high school I wasn’t’t really too jazzed about it. I was good at it and I liked running well enough but I never really got into the competition aspect of things, however the structure of being on a team and regular practice did give me an appreciation that I hadn’t had before for the simple and pure enjoyment that can come from a good run. To me time spent running can be like meditation, while my legs run across the ground my mind runs free as well. Thoughts come and go, sometimes I think about nothing at all, and the only real thing I need to do is put one foot in front of the other. That peace and calmness that can be found, in the midst of such strenuous physical activity is quite remarkable.
I don’t always manage to find that state when I go out and hit the pavement, but there are something that I find help me along the way.
Run Somewhere Calm and Quiet
Finding a quiet path, a route taking side streets or an empty gym can help keep a clear head by avoiding distractions. It is not the same as daydreaming and it is important to watch where you are going as I’m sure those of us who run know from the experience of a rolled ankle or some other injury, but the calmer the surrounding the less there is to distract from the mind.
The Morning Run
As I wrote earlier, going out for an early run is a great way to start the day. The low light of the dawn is somehow more relaxing than any other time of day and things aren’t’t as busy. Also the daily distractions haven’t started to pop up and cloud your head. Whatever it is, the dawns light, the somehow clearer air or some magic spell left from the night, running in the morning helps me find that meditative state.
Like traditional meditation, you choose a specific time to practice your art and put all other problems from your mind, taking some time for yourself to focus on finding a Zen state. Don’t let those thoughts of problems, deadlines or other issues invade your mind. Take time to de-stress and focus on yourself, after all any problems you have to deal with will still be there for you to think about when your run is finished and sometimes taking a break and coming back can help you find solutions.
Music: The Choice is Yours
Since the Walkman first came out, people have been listening to music while they run. If you’re looking to find a meditative state during your run, the choice of music will need to fit your tastes. Everyone has different tastes and different experiences with music. Find something that you can zone out to, with a good cadence for keeping your feet moving and that you will enjoy. If you prefer to not listen to anything that is fine too, however in a loud area like a city lots of distracting noises can really be a problem, but in a quieter location it can be a great choice.
At first you might not see how running and sweating could be a relaxing activity, especially if you start with the goal of losing weight and not with such a natural progression like I did being a natural runner from a young age. As you improve your technique and learn to enjoy running you can find the groove that will take you to that peaceful place where you can get in the zone and go for miles without a thought in your head.