Running on Insight: Reflections (Week 14)

A weekly share on the practical and reflective elements in training for the Sugarloaf Marathon.

This week felt much more, shall we say, “technical” in terms of training.  I kicked off the week with a new strength plan, and enjoyed my first Friday long run of 13 miles.  The weather this past week has been a sweet reward – plenty of melting, sun and bluebird skies.   Getting my weekly long run done on a Friday is an added bonus, as I head into the weekend with that already checked off the list.

Running long is one of my favorite ways to be with myself.  I let my mind wander, I sort out my life, I plan.  It’s usually while running when my best ideas come, and recycling those thoughts through my mind like a mantra, they are written down as soon as I get home.  There are moments, too, when I have no thoughts – no sense of my body.  A flowing wave-like sensation where there is no effort, and then a realization that time and miles have gone by, but there’s no memory of how.

For the last few years, my meditation practice has been very loose and relaxed.  As I sit on a cushion, or lie in a restorative posture with the intention to meditate, I relax around trying to make my mind do anything.  While this might not look much different than daydreaming, I have discovered this approach is one that allows me to understand myself better.  By not cutting off my thoughts, I allow different aspects of myself to come up, and from there I can see my habits, beliefs and views.  By getting to know how I perceive and respond to my inner world, the result is a kinder and gentler way of being with how I interact with myself and others.

Running is inherently meditative.  At times, the mind may be open and relaxed, or more concentrated and single-focused.  A body scan to check form and breath, reciting a mantra to get up a challenging hill, or fixing the gaze on the person you’re trying to pass in a race.  Sound familiar?  These “tricks” are what we runners innately do – and guess what?  That is meditation.  What we do on the road or trail can be further developed in seated meditation, and being with our experience as it’s happening while in stillness can enhance our running.   There is nothing outside of our practice, and whether we sit or swiftly move the legs, ultimately we want to get to know ourselves better.  Thankfully, we have many ways in which to try.

***For anyone interested in learning more about a relaxed approach to meditation, please have a listed to this talk between Josh Summers and Jason Siff.

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