It’s official. I really love running. It has taken me over four decades of bipedal movement to arrive at this conclusion but after reflecting on a lifetime of running, I suppose I can finally admit it to myself. I used to run because I felt I should. Now I run because of how it makes me feel. The deeper into the woods I get, the more at peace I feel. It’s primal, and even occasionally, spiritual.
I’m sure I’m not alone on this, but when I’m running, I’m always more aware of my body, my breath, the sounds of my feet propelling me forward on dirt or pine straw, the birdsong, the thoughts in my head.
And I’ve never enjoyed running with music in my ears. I know for many, the rhythm of a steady beat is what motivates their footsteps, but for me, I’ve always enjoyed the sounds of my environment, whether nature or cityscape. And the music overwhelms any opportunity to enjoy what’s happening in the world at that time. Don’t get me wrong, I love music, but when I’m on the trail I don’t want anything to obfuscate what’s happening in my present moment.
I want to run mindfully. To use the opportunity without distraction, to tune in without any negative emotions, to the sensations arising in my legs or my chest. I want to feel the wind on my face and in my hair. I want to pay attention to my breathing and notice when it increases on a climb and decreases on a straightaway. In effect, running is now a part of my mindfulness meditation practice. It’s another way for me to be aware of the reality of my place in the present moment, and it’s wonderful. This is what I mean when I say that running is sometimes spiritual. When all of the past falls away, when I stop manufacturing future scenarios to worry about, and I’m just a sentient primate in the cosmos, moving forward, reveling in consciousness and the opportunity to breath.