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Is Running the Best Form of Meditation?
another article about the joys of running
One really interesting thing about running is it is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. The longer you run, the more challenging the mental part becomes.
I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. A lot of my runs are done without music, which I used to think was crazy.
Actually, running itself used to be crazy. I thought running 6 days a week would be impossible. I thought running 5 miles first thing in the morning was for insane people.
Maybe it is…
But the reality is, none of it happened all at once. Gradual change is the name of the game.
There isn’t a single running plan out there that suggests going from 0 to 40 miles in a week. You go 0 to 10, then 15, then 20, then 23, 25, 30, 33, 38, 40. Not necessarily that exact breakdown. But you get the idea.
These things take time.
And for me, running without music has been a gamechanger for the mental aspect of running. Which actually sounds counter intuitive.
Music was always an escape from the pain of running or the boredom of running. If the run was too long, even music would be boring and I’d need to put on a podcast or listen to a good book.
Now…don’t get me wrong. I still listen to music on my hard workout days. And I still listen to a book on my long runs. I’m re-listening to the Lord of the Rings right now.
But, the majority of my runs are not those runs. The majority of the time, when I’m hitting the road for 3-5 miles, I’m without headphones.
It took time, but now I can honestly say that running is one of the best forms of meditation in the world.
I love praying to God. That’s my act of meditation. But when I just sit at our breakfast nook, or sit on the porch, my mind wanders and it’s hard for me to pay attention to God. To really focus on Him. I get distracted by the worries of the day. I feel unmotivated.
Not every time, mind you. Any time in God’s word and prayer does leave me feeling His joy. But there are certainly times where it is harder to pay attention to what He’s trying to teach me.
However, if instead of sitting at a table, I put my shoes on for a quiet run through the mountains, it all goes away.
I feel extremely motivated, productive, and at peace. Running through the beautiful creation that God made leads me to just praying praises to God. And all these runs are at an easier pace, which means my breathing is steady and I can actually have a conversation with God.
I can talk my problems out, pray for people, pray for the challenges of life, or just be in awe of the creator and the fact that He loves me personally.
God is not like a king or queen of this world where they claim to love their people broadly. That love might even be true. The king of England might truly love the people of England. But loving the people generally is a whole lot different than loving and desiring a relationship on a personal level with every single individual in England. Let alone the fact that God not only desires a relationship with us, but He has invited us into His kingdom to live, eat, and enjoy life together with Him.
Those are the kinds of thoughts I can meditate on in my runs.
And during those meditative times with the Lord, I’m filled with all sorts of answers. It could be a solution to a problem at work, it might be a really cool creative idea for an article, video, or NFT, it might be a people issue, it could be a financial idea. The list goes on and on!
But the point of this whole article (which I thought of doing on a run by the way) is to say that I believe running is truly meditative.
However, it might not be for everyone. I can tell you it wasn’t for me at first. It took some time before it clicked.
And for you, it might not even be running. Perhaps it’s walking, cycling, swimming, or something altogether different.
All I can encourage you is to find that thing. What helps you meditate and reflect on life, talking to God if you know Him, and work out the problems of life?