Monday, October 27, 2008

Running and Meditation

While I've been a consistent practitioner of meditation for several years and I've found a multitude of areas where meditation shows up in my other activities, such as on the yoga mat or during a strength and toning workout, today was an opportunity to experience meditation during an endurance run. You see, I've been away from endurance sports for a long time, so I haven't had the opportunity to apply the lessons and experiences of meditation in that particular realm.

Don't get me wrong, I know that my meditation practice has served me well during my runs. And I know that my meditation served me well at the recent half marathon, but that was different and I was running with nearly 6000 other people. At the half marathon, I used my mental training to remain calm, though I was late to the start line. I was also able to avoid getting caught up in the rush or desire to go out too fast with the mass of runners. When the thought to "pick up the pace" (ego) would poke it's head out, I'd quickly recognize it and get back to my rhythm.

Today, I ran my first 15 mile run (just over 15, in fact). That is farther than I've ever ran at one time. Heck, this time last year that was more than my weekly mileage! For the sake of keeping this post shorter, I'll skip some of the details. What I do want to share is my meditation observation. If you've never applied yourself to seated meditation, this won't make much sense; those of you who do sit will totally get it. At various points in my run I would notice a part of my body begin to squawk at me, such as a tightness in my shin. I would notice it and then just get back to my focal points. A short time later something else would beg for attention, such as a discomfort in my hip. Again, I would get back to my focal point and carry on. In the final 5 miles, I caught myself thinking about how I couldn't wait to get home and get in a warm shower, or thinking about what I might eat, or just thinking about being done. Once again, I would pull my concentration back to my focal points. It was a testimony to my practice and by remaining focused, I truly enjoyed the run, challenging as it was.

Again, those of you who sit can totally relate to what I'm talking about, it's exactly the experience of doing a seated meditation; the body complains, the mind wanders, the ego offers it's "play-by-play", you think about being done, and on the game goes.

I honestly don't know how people engage in endurance sports without a meditation practice (maybe they are mentally/physically tougher than I am?). But then again, I don't wear an iPod or similar distraction device when I run; I chose to run alone and I chose to run in more remote areas, such as out in the country or through the woods. I absolutely love the solitude that I find once I get outside of town and I love the meditative qualities that I find when I'm out there. Heck, once I got out of town today, I only saw a handful of cars; it was great!

Product Suggestion:
As I've stated on this blog, during my training I am using the exact dietary guidelines that I use in "Project: Bridging the Wellness Gap". The only exception has been the inclusion of carb gels which I use only on my runs which go 90+ minutes. And, on my long runs I'm also using Camelbak's "Elixir", or a similar product called "Nuun"; both these products are electrolyte replacement drink mixes. They are pretty cool, you plop one of the discs in your water bottle and it fizzes like an alka-seltzer. In a couple minutes you have a great drink that provides you all the electrolytes you need with zero calories. You can also put several of them in your hydration pack (follow the product instructions) and you are all set for a long run. I use these drinks and gels instead of Gatorade or similar products. Plus, bye-bye salt tablets! Yuck...

Product "Rejection" -- Yesterday, I couldn't find Power Gel or Gu at any of the local shops, so settled on "Hammer Gel", the only thing I could find locally. I hated it. Didn't like the taste, which I can usually get past poor taste, but this stuff was hard for me to stomach. It also made me feel like crap for the last few miles. After my last one (around mile 12), I thought I was gonna hurl the rest of the run and didn't feel better until about an hour after my run. Rookie mistake, lesson learned. Not saying it's a "bad" product; just saying it ain't for me.

Run Stats:
Distance - 15.12 miles
Time - Don't know. I stopped my watch at 1:45 when I refilled my water bottle and forgot to start it again. I'm guessing it was around 2:50.
Weather -- cold (around 35'ish), overcast, windy
Calories Burned - nearly 2300! Gotta love that
Number of other runners/cyclists I saw today - zero
Number of weird looks I got from people in cars - too many to count. I must look like a space man running so far out in the country, dressed the way I do; people look at me like "what the heck are you doin', boy?"

Lessons Learned: (just a couple to share)
  • I hate "Hammer Gel". Sorry to those of you who like this stuff. I'm sticking with "Power Gel" and "Gu". By the end of the run, the "Hammer Gel" made me feel like hurling.
  • I'm grateful to my meditation and all my meditation teachers
Thanks for reading.



Anonymous said...

Darn, I love the Hammer products. In fact they are pretty much the only nutrition products I have used for many years. But everyone does have unique tastes and stomachs. Good job with the 15 miler yesterday!!! Looks like your endurance is increasing! Heck after Tecumseh I bet you'll think of running ultra's!!!

Corbin said...

Oh hey that previous post was from me. Corbin

Chris said...

Yeah, I was actually excited and had high hopes for the Hammer Gel, especially since you can buy it in bulk bottles and save on all the wrapper/litter. Don't know why it didn't work for me, there was something about the sweetening aspect that I can't put my figer on. Glad it works for you though.

Ultras??? Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! Good call/observation. I wasn't going to put it out there until after I see how Tecumseh goes. Depending on how it goes, I'll make a decision. Ultimately, doing a 50K, 50 miler+ is my vision/goal. But, like I said, we shall see. Tecumseh may provide enough challenge to make me cry "Uncle!" and just stick with shorter runs.

There you go, folks. Anyone who reads the "comments" on this blog just got the scoop on what I have up my sleeve.

Good thing no one reads these things... : -)