I have been taking a break from running in January. Resting takes self control, honesty, and patience. All of which are much easier to come by in thought than in action or inaction if you will. The last time I ran a couple of days ago I was impatient and anxious. I wanted to hang on to the fitness I thought I had lost over seemingly a very long time of inactivity. I wanted to collect those miles and get as much out of that run as I possibly could. Later that day when I was thinking about that run I realized that this approach was not sustainable for me.
Yesterday I was reminded of Haruki Murakami's book What I talk about when I talk about running. I came across the above quote and realized that I was missing out on running in a way that could rejuvenate me like no other.
I set out to run and spend the entire run focused on my breath. I always have on my breathing beads bracelet. I have had numerous incarnations of this bracelet however the idea remains the same. Each time I take a breath I move forward a bead on the bracelet. As I come to the pendant I turn the bracelet around and go the opposite direction. Rinse and repeat. When I am stressed I can even just hold the beads and feel a sense of relaxation that I attribute to my practicing. It takes practice to do just about anything and relaxing and focusing on my breath is much more difficult than one would imagine. Meditating on my breath is simple in theory. You are aware of air flowing into your lungs. You notice your belly move with the breath. In and out. In and out.
One of the issues I have had to work through is the self recrimination I felt when my thoughts wander from my breathe. I have since learned that my thoughts are like clouds when meditating just as Haruki Murakami described them as. They come and they go. Thats what thoughts do. I gently bring myself back to my breathe and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I can guide my thoughts in a relaxed and calm way to address the things that may be bothering me or to take inventory on the state of particular aspects of my life like my mothering or my relationships. I ask myself if I have had creative outlets lately or have I been challenged mentally. Doing this while running takes the edge off and turns the internal volume down to a rational level. I think about something for a beat or two and then come back to my breath letting the thoughts float away.
Another aspect of meditating while running that I have come to love is how my breathe and my steps sync up and I find that I run most efficiently at that pace. It was a rediscovered epiphany. I knew it once last year when I was first leaning to run properly and then my goals and ambitions grew and changed and I lost sight of it. I knew it to be true but didn't practice it.
Today I accepted that I have work to do but it doesn't have to be arduous or without joy. I truly believe that you build distance and the speed will come. I responded to a friends question today about which distance do you like the best and I replied that I love long runs with Fartleks thrown in when the mood hits me. Long and slow with sprints between shadows or light poles for fun. I love long runs when I get to a point when I give in to the discomfort and start thinking about other things or nothing if thats what I want.
While my thoughts wandered I realized that nerve pain I was suffering from in one of my toes has healed. While letting the thoughts flow I discovered that I had handled the last month and even the whole of winter with much more grace than I had yet given myself credit for. I decided that after taking the above picture that even though I am a few pounds heavier it does make my face look younger and my dimple shine brighter.
I was pleased that my feet are only a little tender but I have not lost my good form so no blisters or hot spots from the barefoot run. Those six miles felt like one mile with this efficient style and I think that running alone in the foggy evening was exactly where I needed to be at exactly the right time and I didn't keep track of the time. I decided to run home as it began to get dark.
Congratulations on finding that acceptance today. ::hugs::
I love that quote.
I love when I get to a point in a run where I think about nothing. I just shut off everything and enjoy the run. Sometimes it kind of freaks me out since I'll get some place and not really recollect much of how I got there (as long as I'm alert to traffic it's okay), but it means the run was darn near perfect. :)
Beautiful post, insightful and helpful,thanks for sharing.
Angie B, this is one of my favorite posts you have written. Awesome.
i think for me I have found that a combo of runs that are more meditaiton style and runs that are about fading in to my music allow me to feel the most joy in the sport and the most mental benefits
I love this meditiative quality of running and how disciplined you were to stay in the breath. Also love your new header on this blog!
I needed this post today, thanks! I found this quote yesterday...that I needed too...
"Running reminds me that there is more to me than what is readily apparent much of the time. I don't always need to see it, but oh how I need to know it's there." Kristin Armstrong
Love this. This is what running is all about--it's why I don't use headphones, etc. Distraction free, focused on breathing, thinking, etc. Way to go!
I love how your posts are so calming. And your dimples sure do look cute!
Nice post, enjoyed reading.
breathing beads bracelet.
I need to buy one from you.
Thanks for sharing that quote!! Its awesome :)
Good example of why I love running blogs.
LOvely post! Good reminder to be with the run, instead of fighting against it.
Just finished that book myself! And yet, it's still great to be reminded. :)
I love your posts. You get me thinking about things I otherwise wouldn't.
You are so beautiful! Love that pic of you. I also love the idea of the breathing bracelet. Did you make it yourself? I miss my long runs, but I think focusing on strength right now is good for me. Am totally looking forward to warmer weather and longer runs...
Great post Angie. I cant say I have ever focused on my breathe. I like to let my mind just go to different places on my run. On my next run I am going to focus on my breathe to see how it goes. Thanks Angie.
*sniff* *sniff* most touching post of the day. Indeed there are times when I run just to forget all about whats happening in my life rather than to stay fit. And even if I run at a slow pace, those were the times I feel most contented.
Great post, I have never thought about this topic.
I use the i-pod when I run but now I will try to make some workouts without it to think about many things.
It's very insightful and love the quote too. I miss barefoot running already and I can't wait for the summer to come as I'm planning to start a marathon.
This is a beautiful, insightful post. You are so present with your running--what a good lesson for me.
Glad those 6 felt so empowering!
wow, that is so interesting. The closest I've come to doing something like that is counting my steps to a certain point, then starting over again.
plus your bracelet is pretty.
I enjoyed this very much, thanks for sharing with us!
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