Mindful Exercise / Run

“We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time.”

Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Warm up


You may have woken to a brisk morning or refreshened closer to the 10 pm. No matter how late the evening or how early the hour, today is as good for a run as any. 

You select a suitable route. You don’t know where it may lead exactly, where it might take you, but this doesn’t really matter. Maybe you plan to run on a treadmill, sprint up and down your neighbourhood, jog the rim of a nearby park or a vast ocean shoreline, the exercise is the same and it is exclusive to you alone. 

Hmm. Maybe this way. This way seems like the right way to go.

For a few hundred meters, you walk slowly, with your back slightly leaned forward, your head bowed towards the ground, shoulders rigid, aims loitering, and the thoughts of the day graphically painted on your mental walls. 

Soon you begin to feel a stretching in your calfs, as if they were released from your clenching bones. They loosen and melt into two flexible, amenable motors. Your arms start to sway like pendulums without proper angular motion. Something crackles when you crunch your shoulders to your ears, and relax them all the way downwards. One foot in front of the other, dusting off your posture, trying to lock it down into an upward gait. 

You pick up the pace and start running.

Pain


You feel your back rotating like a twisting pole, your clenched fists swinging in a ninety degree angle, beating up the air in front of you. You discover your abdominal muscles supporting your pelvis. Your head becomes steady, arms swing higher and higher, elbows driving, and your forefeet tap tap tap tap the ground and kick towards your butt. Your heart pulsates lightly against your ribcage, and your lungs expand and contract like a bagpipe. And finally, your breath is slowly isolated from your surroundings. 

After a few minutes, there is a sharp stitch in your side, like someone just speared your appendix. You slow down to ease this pain, but even though it slowly evaporates, your achilles heels begin to ache and your upper high to hold a hellish burn. But don’t let it stop you. Pain is a sign that something is happening. Something is changing, And within this crucial moment of torment and agony, you can choose to either be defeated by it or to enjoy it.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Running meditation 


Even though you feel like you are running alone, you are not alone.

While your body is following your path and running, so is your mind. It jogs to your pace, jolts up and down, confused of the racket and the swaying. Your running movement now feeds off the energy that your mind mistook as fuel, and so your thoughts begin to pace slower and those voices, the critics, the hecklers, the inquisitors, they all quiet down.

As your body aches and struggles on its journey, your mind becomes a free listener and an observer to itself. You see that some things that mattered earlier now release their grip from your skin and you can let them go. How powerful the body is to latch onto meaning and reason, you ponder. How easily we can distance ourself from it all.

And finally you feel your hamstrings, which appear as additional gears. Your legs no longer feel like legs, but like water pushing through a mill, rotating and rotating to create kinetic energy, transforming one movement into another. Your sweat glands blossom and release clear water to keep your body temperature bearable and your eyes are watering too and your mouth becomes dry and you are glowing. Glowing of endocannabinoids and endorphins. And the more you move, the more your body works, the less your other organs scream. Your brain looses its legs and disappears, and your mind cannot run into those useless places about the past and the future while the rest of your muscles are working so. And this is when it dawns on you, that your mind and body, they are all the same.

“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always.”

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Ancestors of a messy, random Earth


You run away from the ideas and thoughts that keep you fixed and locked and stuck in an imprisoning pattern. A cell in where you are unable to observe the world around you, unable to experience it from the inside, and move in it. And so now you are running, you are running through a more vivid reality, a concrete objective, messy and random earth. And on this same chaotic planet, your ancestors once ran in the exact bipedal locomotion a hundred million years ago. Your body was build to run. It is not a practice. It is a reflex.

Your feet spring from the ground with the same determination, the same force as in the hammer once yielded by fellow members of the family Australopithecus.

And by participating in one of the greatest shows on earth, a survival ritual of the past, you move closer and closer to the present. 

“First there came the action of running, and accompanying it there was this entity known as me. I run; therefore I am.”

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Recommended Reading


Shoes for running


https://www.vivobarefoot.com/uk/

https://www.vibrams.co.uk/

References


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966636215004993

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123163757.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939291/

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