Run Present

We’ve all heard these catch phrases, “be present,” “mindfulness,” and “just be.” It can be difficult to be present in the moment we find ourselves in. We’re always thinking about what is coming up next in our lives. We make plans for the next day, week, month, and year.

And there are days we are stuck in the past remembering what happened in our lives sometimes for the joy it brings to us, sometimes to try to understand what happened, and sometimes to brood and despair over things we cannot change.

In the world we live in, we have to plan for our futures, but it shouldn’t consume our present. As for our unpleasant past memories, learn what you can from them and then let them go.  You lived through it once, don’t replay it in your head over and over again.

There are so many things vying for our attention every moment of every day. Our attention has become a commodity. Everyone wants it and we are the ones who don’t ever have it! You only have to look around you as you walk down most city streets or even a hallway of an office. People are doing multiple things at the same time. We have a constant flow of information from multiple sources assailing us every waking moment.

What’s the big deal you might ask? I mean everyone does it: they are thinking about the future, thinking about the past, and processing information from a million sources all the time. No wonder so many of us are exhausted day in and day out. This type of “living” is not living at all. We miss so much because we move from one thing to the next before the prior thing was even finished.

I am a firm believer in taking time to ground yourself in the present and recharge your batteries. It’s like a mini vacation right where you are. You can slip into it any time and any place. Isn’t that why we go on vacations, to get away from it all?

Running is my vacation. I try to be very present when I run and not just because I don’t want to fall on my face, although that’s a pretty good reason. I want to escape the sensory overloaded world most of us function in every single day.

Next time you’re out for a run, try to get to a trail, unplug your ear buds, feel your feet hit the dirt, feel the breeze on your face, notice the different colors around you, notice the different textures of plants, feel your breath come in and go out; be right there experiencing every aspect of your run. I challenge you all to find a new way to be present during a run.

Let me know what you find.

Live in the Run

My favorite thing to do after my morning run is to sit on my front porch as the sun crests the Wasatch Mountains, my first cup of coffee steaming next to me, and my hand cradling the well-worn pages of a book. My body is relaxed and refreshed from my run, and my mind is open and excited with the new day.

This morning I was reading Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott. I started the book a few days ago and pick it up every spare moment I have. I came upon this passage in the book:

“To be engrossed by something outside of ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass—seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one.”

These words resonate like the deep vibration of a gong. These are the final lines of a chapter about what I think of as the author’s mind, the perspective on the world needed by a writer to bring the pages to life for the reader. It’s a place of awareness of what is going on around you and an openness to it similar to the wonder of a child who is experiencing something for the first time.

I think many of us, myself definitely included, get so caught up in our internal world that we lose sight of the beauty and wonder around us. We also forget that every other person is up to their neck in their own flavor of suffering and heartache, and we react toward them in unkind and reckless ways.

I run for a lot of reasons, and one is to be able to experience life, to see the world in a way others don’t, and to occupy my mind’s space. This is why I find an iPod annoying most of the time. An iPod blocks this awareness of the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings of running. It takes you outside of the moment.

There are really only two situations where I find my iPod useful while I run. First, is on the treadmill. The treadmill is boring. I don’t put the iPod in at first, but after about six miles on the treadmill, the iPod becomes a welcome distraction. The second is when it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit, no shade, and I’m running uphill. During those times, the iPod is also a welcome distraction.

Many of my running friends always use their iPod when running. They love it. They explain that running is boring and hard, and they need something to take their mind off of the monotony, rapid heart rate, and ragged breathing. I have nothing against those who use iPods. I would rather have them run with an iPod than not run at all.

But I encourage everyone to unplug for a mile every so often and live in the run.