I used to hate running with a passion. Five minutes on the treadmill or out on a path and I was done. I could lift weights, play sports, and even use some exercise machines. But, doing what nature intended humans to do? Not so much.
However, I’ve turned into an avid runner. Not only do I enjoy running, but I look forward to it. Although I’ve taken my fitness to a new level in the last few years, I enjoy running for reasons that go beyond the fitness benefits. I think the number one reason I love running is because it’s not only a great workout, but it’s also meditative. I’ll explain.
When I’m running outside, it’s an unusual convergence of a few things. First, I’m out in nature and incredibly stimulated. There are so many things to see that it’s almost sensory overload. I’m taking in the sights and the sounds of the world around me. Running allows me to enter a world I wouldn’t normally notice.
Second, running puts me in a more mindful state. Not only am I around a new world, but I’m noticing and enjoying that world. I don’t want to actively focus on my running effort (because it makes it harder), so I instead put my attention on everything around me. It’s a very relaxing experience to live in the present world while I’m running.
Third, running puts me in a slight trance state. It might be the endorphins produced from running, or the groove that I get into, but running definitely throws my mind into a unique state. It’s not a trance in the true sense, but it’s a pleasant focus. In this way, while running might be physically difficult, it becomes a mentally pleasurable experience.
Finally, running represents rare alone time in my life. I love my job, my business and my family. But, my life is incredibly hectic. When I’m running, I’m just with myself and my mind. I’m free from distraction and able to decompress in a way that is hard in my busy life.
So, running isn’t just an exercise anymore, it’s also a meditative experience for me. If you haven’t tried running in a long time, you might want to look at it again. It’s not only great exercise, but you’ll feel invigorated mentally too.