Tag Archives: running

It’s the experience that matters

Happy Runner

Focus on what it’s like to be outdoors, to feeling your body move, to the relationships you may have built through running. These are experiences that can be reproduced with every run—you don’t need a good finish time to produce them. By shifting the focus from results to running itself you’ll feel empowered.  

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a sports psychologist and author of Prime Sport: Triumph of the Athlete Mind, The Bliss List, Runner’s World.com

from Runner’s World Quote of the Day email, March 18, 2013

I’m into a good groove and consider myself fully recovered from my calf strain.  The process of recovering from an injury is never easy, and if I focus on the end rather than the process, it’s even more painful.  It’s like I’m trying to escape from the injury, or worse, speed up time. Time is the most precious gift of life, and if we can focus on our current “location” and not wish we were “somewhere” else we can lose minutes, hours, days, weeks, even years.

I know, it’s happened to me.  I’ve spent way too much time wishing I had a different job, new skills, more friends, less friends, better physical capabilities, a stronger memory, more creativity – you name it, I’ve wished for it.  I wanted to escape being me and before I knew it there I was, in the same place I was when I started thinking about my escape plan!

No more.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I have what I need, and that what will make me happiest is to be okay with me.  As stated in the quote above, I want to focus on the process, and less on the results.  Life is a journey and if we’re always thinking about the outcome, which is inevitably in the future, we can miss the journey.

Running is a great way to get into the current moment.  In my experience, it’s not unlike meditation, only moving.  When I silence the music and take off the watch (or hide it since I can’t live without the post-run data), and don’t worry about pace or time or even weather, and I focus on the process of running, the rhythm, it really is amazing.

Photography also is helping me get into the current moment, but I’m finding that I need to be careful and not focus too much on the result of the picture.  I’m still a rookie and use automatic settings most of the time, but I’m finding that it’s when I forget about the picture and settle into the moment that I get some of my favorite images.

Below is a chart (click here to access the article from which I pulled this graph – there’s also a great TED talk that accompanies this information on the page) that supports some of the above comments, as it shows that people are happier when in the present moment than when their mind wanders:

I’m extending the concept of “mind wandering” to “escape,” but I think that’s relevant.  If our mind isn’t in the present moment, we are escaping.  Our bodies haven’t moved, but our reality is significantly altered.  I haven’t researched the methodology or dug into the data that produced the chart, but I can say that this is consistent with my experience.

I do understand that there are real, dangerous and painful circumstances from which many people do need to escape, and that I’m lucky to not have to deal with that type of pain.  Yet, I’ve still found myself wishing for something else.  It’s not easy to stay in the present.  I think that’s why people who try to live mindfully call it a practice.

What do you think?  Do you struggle staying in the present?  Are you happier when you’re able to stay in the present?  Do you have any tactics you can share to help others stay in the present?

Thanks for stopping by and reading through this post!

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Happy

Friday makes me happy, so I chose to respond to this challenge on a Friday!

Friends and family, human and non-human, make me happy.

Running makes me happy.  In fact, the last time I cried tears of joy was during the 23rd mile of completing my first (and only) marathon.  (No one knew that I was crying ’cause I was sweating a lot.)

Creating – writing, picture-taking, drawing, talking, contributing – makes me happy.

Being outside in nature – birds, streams, trees, sun, rain, clouds, wind, snow – makes me happy.

And every time I see this picture, I smile with Franklin, and I am happy.

Franklin Smilin'

Want to see what makes others happy?  Want to share what makes you happy?

Head over to Across the Board to see the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge:  Happy responses so far and share your happiness!

Happy Friday everyone!

Experience Running, and Life

Approaching the Finish Line

Experience running. There are amazing things that happen when you run. Make sure that you take the time to recognize and appreciate them. ~Daniel Pickle, Runner’s World Challenger of the Week

from Runner’s World Quote of the Day email on March 20, 2013

Running is a great way to experience life.  Rhythmic release, and warm, sunny soreness are only some of the sensations to experience.  Conversational confessions among comrades carry many days into weeks, delivering laughing smiles and knowing glances over plates and glasses filled with calories that fuel the next miles.

Running is life.  There are ups and downs within days filled with effort.  Most wins are personal as there’s always someone somewhere, faster, more recognized or rewarded.  Yet each day we tie our laces and move forward to compete with our selves.  To make each day the day we want it to be, each of us becoming who we choose to be.  One step at a time.

Who do you want to be?

Women Running and Smiling

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an action but a habit. ~Aristotle

from within Runner’s World article by Amby Burfoot

Amby Burfoot has spent his lifetime running, and he shares his secrets in the article referenced above.  I encourage you to take a look – there are some great insights. One of the insights is that the physical act of running is easier than the mental act of running.  We have to believe in ourselves to keep going.

For me, this means that I am constantly training the voice inside my head to say what I want it to say.  It isn’t easy, but some techniques that I use include:

  • Reading daily quotes for inspiration
  • Writing myself reminders
  • Writing blog posts like this one – if I’m talking the talk, I outta be walking the walk

The voice in my head – and I suspect everyone’s – is very powerful in the creation of our story, and it’s up to us to make sure it’s telling the story you want it to tell.

Do you have any techniques or strategies for training your inner voice?  What story did your voice tell you today?

A line drawn with the word start on one side and finish on the other.

I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.  ~ John Hanc

from Runner’s World Daily Quote email

In order to finish a 26.2 mile race you have to run the first mile.  And, in order to write a book you have to write the first chapter. 

Jill Weatherholt’s recent post provides some great suggestions for how you can stay focused on your task and be efficient in accomplishing your short term goals, in this case writing.

Finishing a marathon requires focus, effort, and dedication. If we apply the same approach to everything that we do in life – our writing, photography, whatever our interest – we’ll be amazed at the results.  

photo credit: marcus_jb1973 via photopin cc

A man working on a laptop while walking on a treadmill, with bookshelves in the background.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. ~John F. Kennedy

from Runner’s World Daily Kick in the Butt email

Okay, so I don’t think that Kennedy was advocating that we work while on the treadmill, but I do agree that there is a strong connection between mental health/strength and physical health/strength.

For me, the ability to clarify my thoughts through writing is enhanced when I’m physically active.  When I take time off from running I find that my mood elevator plummets, my confidence weakens, and my anxiety starts to climb.  Which is why it’s so important to ensure that we don’t make the mistakes that moveeatcreate reminds us of in a recent post.

What connections do you see between the body and mind?  How do you ensure that you stay balanced?

photo credit: massdistraction via photopin cc

A cat is hiding behind a desk, with the eyes just showing over the top

When Structure Enables Fear

I love structure.  I’ve invested entire weekends and weeks in learning organizational systems, defining processes, and developing lists with subcategories of subcategories.  I have a shelf of books dedicated to these topics, multiple calendars (paper and electronic), and more folders and trays than I can fill.  I want my life structured!

I want my life planned and so I plan for planning and I check the boxes and follow the path but I never reach the end.  Running is one of the rare exceptions.  You follow the plan, you put the miles in, race day comes, you finish.  But then the question arises – now what?  Many people struggle following their first marathon, myself included, to keep going, but at least you finished the plan.

Seth Godin writes of people who are hooked on hacking life in a recent blog post.  It’s a great post and describes a lot of me.  In addition to losing time in the sinkhole of efficiency, I’ve dropped days of my life into:

  • The perfect office or room setup, organizing the furniture just right
  • Researching forever and never creating (this includes the web, books, Twitter – all the usual suspects)
  • Organizing work instead of doing it

And if I’m honest with myself, I think it’s fear that drives all of this behavior.  I want people to think that I’m smart and know what I’m doing.  I’m afraid of being found out and so I read and research but I never get to the end and so I don’t create.  Hey, it’s safe.

Perhaps that’s why the last line of Godin’s post resonates with me:

It’s possible that your next frontier isn’t to get more efficient, it’s to get more brave.

Yes, brave.  A goal worthy of people who want structure in their lives or live more spontaneously.  If we all can move beyond whatever fear is holding us back we can create a special place for ourselves and others.

photo credit: alasam via photopin cc