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Running (or other sports) and meditation

karastikarasti BreathingMinnesota Veteran

I put this here because it's more about running than meditation. Or maybe it's really not.

I used to be a runner. Then I had another baby, and worked 2 jobs, and then another baby and a marriage and a major move. Then I hurt my knee and my doctor told me nothing high impact and NO RUNNING. I hurt my knee bowling. How embarrassing.

So for 2.5 years I kept to walking and other stuff always afraid my knee would give out. Then this summer I thought "you know what? No. My body needs to run. It's what it wants." So I just started out 6 weeks ago very slow and easy and you know what? My knee feels better than it has since before I hurt it.

Anyhow. I've since found some interesting connections between success as a runner (whatever that means to each person didn't really matter, whether racing or just enjoying running) and Buddhism and mindfulness and meditation and compassion. I re-read a book I had had previously and found so many connections I hadn't noted the first time (Born to Run by Chris McDougall) and then I read Scott Jurek's book "Eat to Run" and found the same connections and notations. I've found it quite interesting.

And I've noticed that despite a dozen years from truly running regularly, my meditation and other Buddhist practice has seemed to influence my running greatly. I absolutely have an ability now to just let my body go and do it's thing rather than let my mind talk me into thinking I'm done when I'm not, and so on. The distinction is quite interesting to me and I can see now how ultra distance runners and people who seem to defy logic and biology in how they run (and other things too, I am sure) and it's all that same mind-body connection.

Just curious if others who run or do other sports have noticed a distinct difference with how your practices influence your sport?

I used to watch runners race in marathons and wish I was one of them. Now I realize the only reason I wasn't is because my mind let me believe it, and it's not true. I might not break a record, but I can train to run the race. Right now my goal is to run our town's first marathon weekend 5K in September. I'd like to be able to do my favorite hiking trail as a trail run before winter, so, mid-to late October, which is about 5.5 miles. Then I have to find a way to keep running going in the depths of winter when I want to crawl in a hole and not move for months, lol. Then I am hoping maybe I will be ready for a half marathon in one of our cities in May/June and then maybe our local marathon in late September again. We will see. But right now, I stopped letting myself stop me and it seems to be working quite well.

lobsterEarthninjamockeymindSpoogleVastmindToshDavidWalker

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Bravo!

    I am a walker not a runner. Occasionally last time was a few days ago, I will run for a little because it feels right. I was inspired by an elderly bearded Seikh running barefoot past another white haired runner, who spurred him on. I think like me he was a sprinter rather than a jogger.

    My last walk was early morning on Britains 'heatwave' day. Walked to our local unofficial hurdling grounds ...

    karastiEarthninjaToshmmo
  • WalkerWalker Veteran

    @lobster
    Wow, they must really have a problem with lavender leapers to go through the bother of putting up signs. Is that a common activity on way home from pub?

    lobsterSpinyNorman
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    ^^^ Perhaps.

    Organic lavender, once common is quite rare and so the crop has to be protected from inexperienced or tipsy amateurs. The common activity on the way home from the pub is usually mindless wobbling.

    DhammaDragon
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Neat sign, I hope people are obeying it :) More friendly than the "STAY OFF!" or "violators will be prosecuted!!" signs that we usually see here for such things.

    Walker
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    ^^^ We also have some highly dangerous local golfers ... they looked quite docile to me ...

    WalkerEarthninjammo
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @lobster said:
    ^^^ We also have some highly dangerous local golfers ... they looked quite docile to me ...

    I was expecting the sign "Don't golf over the lavenders..."

    I am also a walker. I can walk miles and hours on end, but I've been keeping it down to an hour walking meditation a day.
    And yoga, of course.

    But I can't be bothered to run for dear life. I never enjoyed it.

    Earthninja
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    I do crossfit which is a combination of most styles of training, running, weightlifting, gymnastics etc...

    Example workout is 400 m run, 21 kettle swings, 12 pull-ups. 3 rounds as fast as possible. Very very hard mentally and physically.
    Your mind gives up waaay before your body does. :)

    So anything that trains the mind helps in most intense training environments.

    karasti
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    My main form of exercise is road cycling and cycle-commuting. For better or for worse, since I've been practicing meditation I've been able to be quite aware of many of the things that go on in my body and mind when I am suffering up a climb or a sprint.

    I'm quite able to overrule the negative chatter in my brain too. For instance, during a 50km group event, it began to pour rain like I've never seen before... in addition to strong headwinds and crosswinds. It was completely miserable - I felt like I was swimming rather than cycling. Not to mention I had already crashed once and was bleeding from my right leg. While my riding partner kept saying we should just quit and get a DNF, I kept pushing on, focusing on making nice smooth pedal strokes rather than how crappy everything else was.

    karasti
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 2015

    ^^^ [lobster faints] dukkha is not compulsory. Have you guys no sense of restraint? Must be time to do a kettle swing and make a cup of tea ...

    Invincible_summer
  • @karasti

    Just curious if others who run or do other sports have noticed a distinct difference with how your practices influence your sport?

    Since started meditation I noticed a big difference on my swimming laps. The practice of mindfulness enables my body to relax more and harmonized the mind and body (to stay present while doing the strokes) It is like walking mediation that focuses just the walking - not thinking reaching the other side of the pool and back. It is just so peaceful doing sports with mindfulness as its base discipline, plus you don't really get tired, you just live that moment of one strokes at the time. Surprisingly, I was able to swim 45 mins freestyle with ease.

    lobstersilverSpooglekarasti
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I can't run due to reasons I have already given in the past, so I needn't repeat them. But swimming? I miss. I really should start that up again.... and I do cycle every day... I won't so much in the winter, but certainly, in fiar-weather, I'm an enthusiast!

    karastimmo
  • SpoogleSpoogle Explorer
    edited July 2015

    Cycling is my thing too. I can't walk very well, never mind run. But can cycle forever :) Now meditating and cycling don't really go together well, as you really need to have full focus on where the bike is pointing and the ground/road ahead of you. However, indoor cycling on a turbo trainer or static bike is perfect for meditating. Like others, I find that I really am able to find a deep place during cycling meditation. This has also enabled me to push my body harder and further than I would ordinarily be able to do.

    When I am exercising the body and mind in unison with mindfulness the effects are truly wonderful. Something like perfect harmony.... I am not great at putting thoughts or experiences in to words sorry. But I hope you get the idea. :)

    Invincible_summer
  • 0student00student0 Explorer
    edited July 2015

    Man, sports and meditation, that's one hell of a combo. I think the most "in the moment" experiences I had were always while either running or swimming, or doing exercises.

    karasti
  • WalkerWalker Veteran

    As per my screen name, I really enjoy walking & hiking. Hatha Yoga as well. Hope to figure out this sciatic nerve thing soon, as it's making things very difficult.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    I'm a walker/stroller, hahaha...walking meditation has slowed my regular walk down to a stroll, I swim...and love it. Nice post!!!! Good for you =)

    karasti
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    Running, particularly distance is more about the mind than the body. Right now you're in the first flush of joy (like the first flush of dharma), but that'll wear off and the work will begin. Can you make yourself go for a run when you don't want to?

    Then while out running, it's the mind that's the real problem. Training for a marathon will mean doing a long weekend run, maybe building upto and lasting upto three-or-four hours. You're a long time in your head; you will have lots of opportunity to think "This hurts now, so what's it going to feel like in another twenty minutes?" and torture yourself with all kinds of thoughts.

    Then you can remember to 'pull it all in' and get present again, before the mind wanders off into misery, before 'pulling it all in again'.

    I've a friend who runs really REALLY extreme stuff (like 24 hour races and 100 mile ultra marathons); he says it's 30% physical and 70% mental (very mental I'd say).

    Isn't spirituality about working with the mind? Lots of practise there in running.

    You get to eat more food too; guilt free.

    I like food.

    P.S. Reference the knees; it's thought that the impact from running can actually encourage cartilage growth, rather than wear it away. Go to any doctors and the vast majority of people who have joint problems will be the sedentary types; particularly the overweight.

    PPS. If you plan to run a marathon, have a look at the Hanson method; there's a lot of memes that've crept into marathon training (such as building upto a 20 mile training run) that science is showing are not true. Mrs Tosh got a marathon PB (she's ran loads, she also runs ultra marathons) using the the Hanson method and it's 'easier' than many other training programs, but it works.

    lobsterDavidkarastiInvincible_summer
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 2015

    Thanks @Tosh,

    The mind-body divide is a western delusion. It is all mind. The body senses what we think. Our body can be made ill by useless thinking, mental or emotional stiffening.

    @Walker said:
    As per my screen name, I really enjoy walking & hiking. Hatha Yoga as well. Hope to figure out this sciatic nerve thing soon, as it's making things very difficult.

    Send it Love.
    https://yogainternational.com/article/view/7-poses-to-soothe-sciatica

    @DhammaDragon said:
    But I can't be bothered to run for dear life. I never enjoyed it.

    Enjoyment ... good plan ... and now back to dancing eh ... extreme enjoyment

    Walkerkarasti
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:
    But I can't be bothered to run for dear life. I never enjoyed it.

    I get that. But it's a bit like sobriety for an alkie. We don't enjoy it to begin with, but with practise and some determination, it gets better. Sometimes it's even enjoyable. O.o

    I think running has a lot in common with meditation you know.

    I struggle with both.

  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran

    @karasti said:
    Just curious if others who run or do other sports have noticed a distinct difference with how your practices influence your sport?

    >

    How curios because I have been considering a similar post for some time. I have problems with both my knees but the doctors have urged me to run. I desisted a long time but got inspired this spring.

    Unfortunately my knees feels much worse now. I guess it is because I weigh too much. So I am going to switch to something else soon. :).

    But back on subject. Yes I find it much easier to fall into being rather than doing when running now.

    I also notice that speed of running and the ease of running is determined by what thoughts, mind objects, enter into your mind.

    Actually you might not know that you have a energy drain in some part of life or in some person but when you run and think about the person or what ever your pace will drop and it will become less comfortable to run.

    And vice versa. So a great help in cultivation. And in running itself.

    last time I ran I mindfully kept my thought on fun parts in life and avoided thinking about energy drains which resulted in a very much better lap time!

    Now I am considering using this mindfully in other parts of life.

    Come to think of it it is really nothing new. Just old wisdom in an new setting.

    Ayobowan!
    Live long and prosper! :)

    Victor

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @Walker said:
    As per my screen name, I really enjoy walking & hiking. Hatha Yoga as well. Hope to figure out this sciatic nerve thing soon, as it's making things very difficult.

    Believe it or not, an Aleve a day has really helped my sciatica and it was at the point where I could hardly move and was very painful at night.

    Nothing else helped.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Somebody comparing what artists and athletes call the "zone" to meditation is what made walking meditation possible for me.

  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited July 2015

    Iam using to bike for work 40 km, since I dont like to drive, I always fall asleep after night shift and bulking my car, so its for safety reasons. When iam using my bike Iam aware of the sceneary and my breath (wich is unpossible to not recognize). So I stay grounded in the hear and now.

    Other sport I do its Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, If you are not in the moment while grappling against your opponent, you got chocked out very fast, and you also need alot of body awarness!

    You feel very alive doing sports, and it force you to be in the moment :)

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Spoogle said: Cycling is my thing too. I can't walk very well, never mind run. But can cycle forever :)

    The thing I enjoy about cycling is the variation, working hard to get up a hill and then free-wheeling downhill. Actually it's the wind which is the big factor here on the coast, it's really nice when it's behind you!

  • WalkerWalker Veteran
    edited July 2015

    @ourself Unfortunately, Aleve may not be an option for me as I also have ulcerative colitis. I suppose I could ask my doctor about it.

    I have been taking Tylenol Muscle Ache & Body Pain Formula, which helps a little, but not much.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @Walker said:
    ourself Unfortunately, Aleve may not be an option for me as I also have ulcerative colitis. I suppose I could ask my doctor about it.

    I have been taking Tylenol Muscle Ache & Body Pain Formula, which helps a little, but not much.

    Yeah, I tried that but all it did was numb the pain, it didn't relax the nerve so it still hurt when it pulled.

    Ask your doctor if it will be harmful or not because it's for inflammation.

    I swear I tried everything and nothing worked until a co-worker suggested Aleve.

    I can sit in a half lotus now, no problem. For a while at least.

    @karasti;

    Do you run on cement or stay to the grass? I'm told it makes a huge difference for the knees and shins.

    Walker
  • WalkerWalker Veteran
    edited July 2015

    @karasti Yeah, I'm the one with the sciatic nerve issues. I can do some gentle stretches, but can't keep up in my beginner's class anymore, it's gotten that bad. Forward folds and downward dogs are sheer agony! Can't even sit straight in staff pose. I had some x-rays taken last Friday, and am having some blood work done next week (soonest I could get in), so I'll see my doctor after that.

    If you really want to set a long, long term goal for a trail run there's always this. :p

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @Victorious said "Unfortunately my knees feels much worse now. I guess it is because I weigh too much. So I am going to switch to something else soon. :).

    But back on subject. Yes I find it much easier to fall into being rather than doing when running now."
    ~

    Yeah, that's my issue, as well. My docs say swim, and I'd rather just do brisk walking and light jogging/sprinting. The weather is too dang hot here right now, so I'm not doing it as often as I want. As I see it, mindfulness is a piece of cake (ooh, wrong metaphor) while exercising. :)

    Victorious
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited July 2015

    Sometimes folds make things worse, so they might just not be the right thing. If you can, see if you can find someone who teacher restorative yoga, they might be able to give you something more gentle. Jules Mitchell is a great one and she is quite active on FB, perhaps you could message (or email) her and see if she has ideas.

    I had more problems swimming with my knee than I did anything else. The pressure of the water pushing against my foot caused my kneecap to poke right into the spot that was damaged when I injured it. It's better now. I love to swim, but it's not something we can do here. We don't have a pool in our town and the next closest one is about 45 miles away. I swim in the summer but the lakes are only warm enough for a few months. I do love to kayak though, and we go geocaching and photo trips in our kayaks pretty often. Great for the upper body and core for sure! We also canoe a lot, but I prefer the kayak.

    @Walker, LOL. Yeah, no thanks!! Some of those extreme things I think aren't for me. Desert marathons, arctic ones, mountain ones, I start to hyperventilate thinking about running some of them. Looks like fun! But maybe if I had discovered such things 20 years ago, LOL. I'm more for the beer and dessert races ;) I'd love to do some of the obstacle races in time, too. They do one near here that is an inflatable course, looks like fun.

    Walker
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    You guys might already be aware; it's fairly well-known now; when it comes to injury prevention it's never been about the running shoes; that's all been a bit of a con to part us from our cash. All this gait analysis and running shoes for pronation control is pretty much bunkum.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/11243944/Are-expensive-running-trainers-a-waste-of-money.html

    We don't need to spend a lot of money on the latest over-engineered shoes; they just need to be comfortable.

    What's really important though is good running form. Once you've been running for a while and worked on your form you can just tell who is a regular runner from someone who just does a few miles a week by seeing how they run.

    Good running form helps prevent injury and when it comes to endurance events, it'll save you energy too.

    Youtube does a lot of stuff about good running form; do some searches there on Chi Running, or the Alexander Technique or barefoot running (they're all the same really); or just 'good running form'.

    karastisilverlobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    If anything people spend money on the latest and greatest shoes that aren't even the right shoes and end up injured because they don't need what the shoe offers and the average person doesn't know what stability and motion control and all the rest of the stuff is for.
    My son runs in Newton's which have worked really well for him, they encourage a forefoot strike and for him that works best. For sensory reasons, autistic people often have a bouncy walk, and they walk more on their toes. So that is how his feet are strengthened already.

    My preference would be to run barefoot all the time, but it's just not possible here. I love to go out on the football field and run, but they have it roped off because they planted new grass :( I have meant to look into Chi Running for a while but haven't, thanks for the reminder! I will do that tonight. I've always had this belief that people can develop a way of running that almost allows them to float and glide, and I know some people can do it. It fascinates me. This nonstop pounding and slapping that we do just isn't necessary, I don't think. If we know how to properly engage the mind and body with the right techniques I think we can eliminate a lot of the abuse we put our bodies through.

    I see it even watching Ninja Warrior, which I love, lol. You can tell which people train in something that is more brute force, and which train in things that require a degree of grace. It's no coincidence that many of the people who make it to the end are rock climbers and parkour practitioners. I think they know well how to engage their minds and bodies in a way most of us don't. It's not just the upper body strength but that certainly is a big part, too. Doesn't matter how strong you are if you can't be light on your feet with good agility.

  • WalkerWalker Veteran

    Well, if you won't come to Alberta for the Death Race, how about this 1km and beer garden? ;)

  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @Tosh said:
    You guys might already be aware; it's fairly well-known now; when it comes to injury prevention it's never been about the running shoes; that's all been a bit of a con to part us from our cash. All this gait analysis and running shoes for pronation control is pretty much bunkum.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/11243944/Are-expensive-running-trainers-a-waste-of-money.html

    We don't need to spend a lot of money on the latest over-engineered shoes; they just need to be comfortable.

    What's really important though is good running form. Once you've been running for a while and worked on your form you can just tell who is a regular runner from someone who just does a few miles a week by seeing how they run.

    Good running form helps prevent injury and when it comes to endurance events, it'll save you energy too.

    Youtube does a lot of stuff about good running form; do some searches there on Chi Running, or the Alexander Technique or barefoot running (they're all the same really); or just 'good running form'.

    Yes, but it's more than just the footwear and adjusting running form. I have very flat feet and less-than-ideal range of motion in my feet, and so even when I eased myself into the whole "natural running movement," I was in a world of injury. Unless I did a ton of other work to potentially (not guaranteed) loosen up the joints in my feet and build up more strength in my intrinsic foot muscles to even begin thinking about getting back into minimalist running, I would just be hurting myself more and more.

    While I admire the ethos and the rationale behind Chi Running/barefoot running/natural running/etc, I don't think it's for everyone.

    Toshlobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Rarely is any one thing for everyone. Sometimes flat feet is structural and/or genetic. But most often it is due to weak ankles and weak ligaments and tendons in the feet...which is caused by spending too much time in shoes that don't allow us to use our feet. That doesn't mean you should toss off the shoes and start running or even walking barefoot/minimalist though. Babies learn to walk by having total use of their feet to grip and balance on. Your feet are amazing at sensing changes to the environment. They have so many nerves, they can send you a message that you are stepping on something sharp and give enough time for you to react because you actually step on it. It's an amazingly fast network. But we short change it by putting babies in shoes asap, even when they are inside, and then we continue that with kids by not letting them be barefoot outside.

    Stretching and strengthening ligaments and tendons takes a long time. In addition to that, you have to deal with increased loads to your bones which takes even longer for the body to adjust to strengthen bones by making new bone cells. It takes many months for an average person to build a small running base because of that ongoing process. When you face other challenges, it takes even longer. My husband is extremely flat footed. When he puts his feet together (like sitting butterfly style) he barely has a discernable arch. He runs, but he wears different shoes (they are minimalist shoes for people with flat feet, but I can't think of what they are called) and has to be careful of his foot landings and other technique more so than others. But he also does yoga which helps immensely with strengthening the feet. Even though he's flat footed and very inflexible his has very flexible and nimble toes, which kind of freaks me out, LOL. he can move them all individually as well as I can move my fingers. It's weird.

    Anyhow, no, it's definitely not for everyone. And even if most people could make it work, if they don't want to they shouldn't feel they have to by any means. I grew up barefoot. I grew up with hippie parents in a rural area and I went barefoot a lot. It wasn't until I went to college in the city that I started running into trouble and it was years before I realized a lot of it was due to losing my ability to be barefoot. But then we moved back to my hometown and I went right back to it. I am primarily barefoot as much as the weather allows me to be. I walk on gravel roads, pavement, cement, whatever barefoot. It's so very different from wearing shoes. I do not trail run barefoot, I know some who do, but I just don't feel safe doing it here. Most of the trails I run on don't have cell access and it's just way too easy to bust an ankle on a rock or a tree root, so I don't risk it. But there is an immediate change in how I walk and run when I have to wear shoes and it's a tough adjustment to make. It's even harder when winter comes and I have to wear boots :(

    Invincible_summer
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Very interesting thread guys.

    Sports such as endurance parenting, hardcore dancing, combat yoga and extreme ironing
    http://xtremeironing.com are just as potentially mindful and skilful (or not) as competitive meditation ...

    I will be doing some extreme relaxed hardcore sport sitting shortly, with as little effort as possible to compensate for all the sweat ... :chuffed:

    Walkerkarasti
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @ourself said:Do you run on cement or stay to the grass? I'm told it makes a huge difference for the knees and shins.

    Yeah, running on a hard surface has got to put a lot more stress on the body.

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    After the minimalist craze, the rebound has created a recent proliferation in "fluffy" running shoes with great cushioning. I'm happy to see this, because as I age I like the idea of having some shock absorption in the midsole so my cartilage doesn't have to do it all.

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    Anyhow. I've since found some interesting connections between success as a runner (whatever that means to each person didn't really matter, whether racing or just enjoying running) and Buddhism and mindfulness and meditation and compassion.
    -In my youth I was a competitive runner; 1/2 mile, mile and two mile relay. Anyway, I remember well the "runner's zone." Since then I have engaged in a small number of other activities where I have achieved that state. As an aside, around the time I ran track I made my acquaintance with Buddhism. I would argue Buddhist practice can enable an environment for the zone, which is really just mindfulness :-)

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Steve_B said: After the minimalist craze, the rebound has created a recent proliferation in "fluffy" running shoes with great cushioning. I'm happy to see this, because as I age I like the idea of having some shock absorption in the midsole so my cartilage doesn't have to do it all.

    I suspect that in evolutionary terms we weren't designed to run on concrete. ;)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Sakyong Mipham (Trungpa's son) wrote a book about running and Buddhism and meditation. I have seen it but have not read it yet.

    Concrete is the worst, it is the least forgiving surface. Pavement/asphalt is somewhat more forgiving, especially in the summer when it gets just a little bit soft (or starts to melt in some areas where it's so hot). That'll be one of the biggest challenges to running in winter even days it is possible to do so-the ground freezes solid a good 4-6 feet deep. I am thinking I am going to look into a combination of cross country skiing and snowshoe running. My kids are skiers, so we already have a family pass for the trails in the area.

    It's been interesting to note that quite a few ultrarunners make a lot of references to Buddhist types of teachings, Prannic breathing, meditation, and so on. The mind is definitely the biggest player and can work so quickly for or against your physical efforts.

    xtremeironing, LOL!

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    ^^^ One of my favourite jogs was in snow and wellies ...

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