One of the reasons why running appeals to me is the opportunity for a time out from my busy life. That hour when no one bothers me, when the ironing can wait and when I don’t have pressures of time and responsibilities weighing me down. And when no compulsory mileage to hit and when I’m doing something for myself and not for my bosses, customers and what-have-I. That time alone is what I cling to as my personal time continues to be squeezed. Some get by with a 10-minute deep prayer or 30-minute meditation. I just happen to like to merge the exercising of the body with the mind.
I run best when I’m not beset by the knowledge that I’ve to be home by such and such a time and when I ditch the cell phone. My best runs need not necessarily be long nor fast. It’s a state of mind when I let go of all attachments. In that state, my mind can either be thinking about nothing (trust me, that can happen!) or reflecting. I could be thinking of ideas to shoot or write for a blog post, basically constructive and creative things. This state of equanimity doesn’t happen often though but I do try to seek it.
Running with burden, prejudice and pressure completely negate this very thing that we do and love. Heading out for a run then becomes an activity in futility, unless you’re one who thrives on pressure. Many runners I know count seconds and metres in their daily runs. Maybe they have a compelling reason to do so. Maybe 0.5 metres add up to 1 metre after 2 runs, which in turn tally up to their very important weekly mileage target. Maybe that’s not stressful for them. To each his own, if that works for them. But for me, that’s not important anymore. That doesn’t mean I’m no longer competitive. I’ll still go into target races with a racing mindset. I still value the importance and cardinal truths of mileage and training specificity. But I won’t beat myself up over, say, seconds and metres anymore.
Here’s to running free!
Published July 2010.