Whilst running, rather than plugging into base beats and other people’s lyrics, I listen to the birds instead. And to the wind in the trees. And to my own raspy panting.
Running without music provides plenty of thinking time and recently I’ve become fascinated with the link between running and thoughts.
For example, each time I go running I tend to follow the same route and as I physically move along the road, I almost always have the same thought pattern; thoughts about my life, my family, friends and work.
As I continue around the twisty, turny roads, I move through a whole range of emotions and by the time I am running back, I leave that terrain of my thinking – the dreams, the hopes, the fears and the annoyances – all behind. It’s as if by travelling a physical route, I have also travelled a mental, emotional and spiritual route.
Once I have completed this part of the run, I reach a fork in the road. One way leads back to my house. The other way leads to the cliff path. As I approach the fork, I am faced with a choice.
Do I take the easy route and go home to relax, drink water and recover? Or do I keep running out onto the cliffs, making myself face the challenge of rocky steeps and a longer distance?
Should I stick to the well worn path back to comfort, or should I push myself on?
At first I always took the easy option and ran/staggered home. However, one day I got to the house and realised Andrew had locked me out. This meant I was forced to run along the coast to the Ninja Hotel. A new route was created – both in my mental habit and my physical route. Since that time I have chosen to take the coastal path more and more and now, when I reach the fork in the road I automatically go towards the cliff.
This is what I find so fascinating!
When we run it’s like we take the journey of a thought, sparking through the neural-pathways of the brain. What was a normal thought habit for me – choosing the easy option to run back home has gradually altered by thinking a new thought and taking a new route.
When a dominant habit changes, so does our direction, our route and our experience. When we choose to push ourselves further, our mental, emotional and spiritual muscles grow stronger, we become empowered and the horizons of the world expand.
“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” – Jesse Owens
“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.”
-Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile