The Joy Of Mindful Running


Musings / Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

This post is dedicated to the wonderful SR, the human mama of Spikey the Flower-Loving Dog, who even if I forget reminds me to “Look at the moon now!” or “See the skies!” Thank you for showing me that moments like these exist last week.

The other day, in my post about the wonderful Nandish, I wrote about his cricket and rock-climbing exploits and rued that he may not quite be able to run. As with most things in life, I am generally wrong. And unlike most instances, this time, I was happy to be wrong. Nandish can run indeed as the lad told me, having just completed the full marathon in a time of five hours. When I heard that, I realized that I want to run a race with this boy one day.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be very fit, as I run only about 60km or so in a month. After a few speed workouts and fartleks, my friend and I leave one day in the week for our long run of about 10km. The most I have ever run has been 12.12km. So, when Nandish told me his mileage, I was stoked. Yes, I may have cycled 160km, but should I not at least run a half-marathon when running is my first love? And that’s how I got up in the morning, intending to run for about 15km. That’s not the half-marathon. But well, a gal has to start somewhere!

The more you run, the more you realize that running is a bit like meditation. If you leave out the music, you are just with your mind and body, allowing yourself to be in that chaotic and often messy state of being. As I ran, I saw immediately how difficult it was to be truly present with ourselves. I still had the music. But my mind was immediately on the almost 80 minutes ahead of me. It was hard to not keep thinking of the end. My mind was beset with questions. What’s my pace? Am I running too fast? I need to pace myself to last the distance, I thought. The more I thought of my speed, the more stress I created.

How the hell do I meditate every day? Why is mindful running a 100 times more difficult than just closing your eyes? Ah, but that’s where you step back, and realize that this run is a metaphor for life too. I was trying to be mindful. I was trying to reach somewhere. I was trying to look good while reaching there. But where was this ‘there’ that I had to get to? And that’s when you slip that mental lock, throw away the key (well, I pretend to throw it away, but we all know where it is!), and just slide into the mental serendipity of the Universe.

When I began my run, the sun was just waking up too.

sunrise in bangalore
Saying hi is our sun

 

I chose a different path for this run, and I was immediately rewarded. Try it. Life is beautiful when we get away from the roads of comfort.

A cow sat and stared into the distance, soaking in the sun, and chomping on some grass. Breakfast was good.

cow bangalore

I went past other runners. Sorry, I am competitive, and I love love overtaking other runners on the road. I also went past a few dogs, who sniffed curiously at me as I ran.

sunrise

A lake shimmered.

Forests swept by, lazy trees whispering silence to each other.

forests

My App showed 7km and said 8km more to go. My mind sunk. How easy it is for us to be defeated! On any day, running 7km is not something that will frustrate me. Yet, because the app said 8 more kilometres to go, there I was already thinking of that LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG road. How difficult we make life for ourselves.

I then turned to one of the things I learned while climbing up mountains – take it one step at a time. You can’t sprint up a mountain unless you are Spartacus. When you see the sheer grandeur of the mountain, you think that you will never make it. But then, you don’t have to make it. All you have to do is just take one step. So, that’s what I did. I decided to take it one step at a time. Not that my mind obeyed. No. It kept reminding me of the distance I still had to cover. But when the mind wasn’t in control, I could still whisper to myself to just run with the body and not the mind. Did I succeed? I finished 15km. I wasn’t spent. I could have run more. I think I can run that half-marathon with Nandish. But I learnt something more.

We can’t run away from our minds. We have to make friends with it. Play with it. And more than anything, being mindful is not easy. But easy is not beautiful. And I will take beauty any day.

 

6 Replies to “The Joy Of Mindful Running”

  1. Your run was so beautiful in so many ways! I love the pictures and, of course, the cows. I know you will get to the half marathon before me (I am sloth no haha) and I am waiting for that day! And that advice from climbing mountains – one step at a time – I will never forget. Emei Shan was conquered with that. Kilometers too will be done in the same way.

  2. Hi Smitha – Sorry to be so late with funds for Nandish. Look for something in PayPal from Karen. Wish him the joy of competing for us.

    On mindful running. In my youth I was a high school cross-country runner. The sport got me only “letter” which is an embroidered thing you sew on your varsity jacket to show how cool you are.

    At the time I had never heard of meditation (and so much else). Still I can remember going into a comfortable place when I had my breathing synchronized with my footfalls. One, two, three inhale; one, two, three exhale. The rhythm would speed up or slow down with the terrain before the final “kick” to the finish line when all thought of meditation would be obliterated.

    Now I get the same effect while swimming. I call it a meditative state because to me it is.

    That was a lovely run you took. I wish you many more like it.

    Dave

    1. Yes. I believe Murakami has a book on running, which I intend to get around to some day. I never knew you were a cross-country runner, Dave! Ah! The tips I should take from you then!

  3. Aaawwww! Thank you for the dedication Soul Muser. I bet being mindful is just not easy but that line “But easy is not beautiful. And I will take beauty any day.” ….. heartmelt. Choices always make moment/person special. So glad to see you run past the sniffing dogs and get jealous about cow’s delicious breakfast 😉😋. Also you may not be always wrong. One of the few humans I know who is always willing to learn what life is determined to happen through you.
    And Spikey says, run and come to this side of crowded town and gift me a pillow 🙈😎😂😍

    1. Thanks Sheetal for the messages to look at the sky – they helped me more than you may know during a difficult week. I was saving some bottles for Spikey to give him. They are cheaper than gifting him a pillow to tear apart!

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