Monday, November 28, 2011

Running Lessons: To be or not to be ... present

A moment of quiet reflection in Peace Park

Many runners I know wouldn't dream of heading out the door without their ipods. They like the distraction and motivation of listening to high energy music while they run. Others tell me they use their running time to organize their day or solve complex problems. Still others say they "zone out" when they run. One acquaintance even told me he often got lost because he became so disconnected from reality that he no longer had any idea where he was or how to got there.

From the beginning, I've taken a different approach. I never listen to music. Instead, I listen to - well, whatever's around me - birds singing, waves pounding the shoreline, the wind in the trees, cars swooshing past, the soles of my shoes crunching on gravel beneath my feet, or the sound of my own breathing.  And, when I run, I don't solve problems or strategize about the future. I simply try to pay attention to the moment I'm in, to feel every sensation and to experience the wonder of being alive in such a beautiful world.

When I first started running, I sometimes dreaded going for a run - telling myself I just had "to get it over with."  Nine and a half years later, I try to begin every run grateful that I "get" to be out there, attentive to how my body's feeling on that particular day, and excited by another opportunity to explore my physical and psychological limits. 

It's why I like having my smart phone with me. Looking for images to capture helps me focus on the now, rather than zoning out or getting too caught up in my thoughts.  

Here's a link to a few of the pictures I've taken on my runs this fall.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on being present while you run. Or not.

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