I’m a fast person. I walk fast. I talk fast. I move fast. I drive fast.
So when I run, I (of course) like running fast. Duh.
After reading a book called “The Little Red Book of Running” (which I highly recommend- quick read, great information), one of the tips was not to treat every run like it’s a race. Each run you do while training has a goal behind it- and only sometimes is that goal speed. And for most of your long runs leading up to your next race, the goal is not at all speed. In fact, it’s much more beneficial to your training if you just SLOW DOWN.
I’m not pretending I don’t like to take it easy while exercising. I often most certainly do. But, as I said before, I like to go fast fast fast and I don’t like to slow myself down if my body is feeling good enough to go faster.
But, I figured if this book suggests you do it once in a while and my next race is still a month away…so why not just enjoy the 1 hour 45 minute run by going at a very leisurely pace. And that’s just what I did.
I ran slow. I kept repeating to just relax and run slower than normal. Let my pace be calm and relaxed and maybe my mind will follow. And you know what? It did.
About thirty minutes into my run, I started to really take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the world around me. I smiled at the animals and breathed in the fresh air. I should add I have the benefit of living in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in one of the most gorgeous places in the world (Los Angeles, CA). But the gratitude for this life is not lost on me. I love the fact that I can run to the ocean, took time to look at the waves, and took deep breaths of the salt water air. I work hard for this life. I am lucky. And I know it.
As I worried less about my pace and pushing my body to the limit, I was able to really calm my body down. My normally frantic pace (at life) was forcibly slowed down and my normally frantic mind followed suit. I was half listening to a podcast and half immersing myself completely in the running experience.
I felt such zen.
It was so weird.
I even had a woman pass me mid-way through my run. Normally, I would be extremely annoyed by this. You’d better be sprinting if you’re going to pass me. I AM THE ONE WHO PASSES. (I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS.) Instead of being competitive, though, I took a moment to feel the competitive edge rising within me, breathed, and let her go about her merry way without bothering me at all. Her going faster than me in that moment had nothing to do with me or my run. I don’t know anything about her- how far she’s running, what her goals are, what her normal pace is, if she ever races…nothing. What the hell do I care if at this moment on this day in this place, she’s faster than me? Let it go. Let her be.
As a normally fast (and competitive) person, that realization was absolutely liberating. Other people’s journeys are just that- other people’s journeys. They say nothing about what I’m doing, what my goals are, what I happen to be trying to accomplish that day, where I’m heading…nothing. So let it go and let them be.
Towards the end of my slow run, it began to get cloudy and small water droplets were forming in the air. Not really rain, because this is LA after all. But just a thin layer of mist. And rather than thinking, “OH MY GOD IT’S GONNA RAIN AND I’M GONNA BE STUCK IN IT AND IT’S GONNA SUCK AND I WANT TO RUN HOME FAST,” I thought “Huh. Mist. Feels good. It might be nice to get caught in the rain.”
WHAT WAS THAT VOICE?
And how can I have it in my head always?
I loved my long, slow run. I learned so much about my body, mind, and spirit. And enjoyed every minute of it.
And tomorrow, I’ll go back to my frantic sprinting.
I just started a new book last night called…well if you read the subject of this post, I bet you can gather what it’s called. But if you’re one of those people who skips the big words just to read the fine print, I’ll tell you. The book is called “Zen and the Art of Running.” And so far- it’s really good.
Sure, I’m only one chapter in but they say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. But they never said anything about judging a book by the first chapter. So consider this book judged- and I couldn’t be more excited!
It’s about changing your perspective on running no matter what your experience level or commitment to the sport may be. You can change your perspective to be a better overall runner who enjoys and is invigorated by any length of run using ancient Zen disciplines and attitudes.
I’ve got a long run tomorrow, so let’s hope that I finish the rest of the book tonight so that I actually complete that run successfully.*
*There’s no way I’m finishing that book tonight. Hopefully the second chapter is entitled, “Get off your lazy ass and go for the run so that you don’t hate yourself even more in 14 days when you have to run 13 miles and you’ve barely trained.”
I think that might be too long for a chapter title. That’s why I don’t write books. Only blogs.