Is Running a Religion? by George Sheehan
I wrote about this article and how it impacted me on my other blog, here. Many thanks to Steve of Phedippidations for guiding me to look into this more. It is difficult for me to believe that one could be a long distance runner and not be a bit of a philosopher. It seems to me the two things go hand in hand. Running for hours without spending time thinking about God, the nature of man, or some other deep thought would make the whole exercise without meaning or purpose.
To me it is diametrically opposed to, yet accomplishes the same thing as, Zen sitting. In Zen you sit quietly, without moving, until you forget there is body there and you are just focused thought. While running, once you get beyond a certain fitness level and can run for long periods, you find a similar place. The body is kept busy with running, but it becomes something you no longer have to actively think about, you just do it. While the body is busy running, the mind is free to contemplate things.
Going to this quiet place is one of my most treasured parts of my day. For me, it makes running worth doing.
Yesterday afternoon I was sorely tempted to go out and put in a 2-3 mile run after that little, barely a run lap around the block in water shoes. But, I restrained myself. Good thing too. When I got up this morning both of my calves were tight and stiff. I can see how easy it would be to over do it when starting into minimalist running. If I had run until I was uncomfortable yesterday I’d be unable to walk today. Thankfully, patience and judgement won out over exuberance.
New insight from my run today. Running in minimalist shoes forces shorter steps and faster turn over. Switching back to regular running shoes I tend to keep some of that. Result: running faster. When I hit the first 1/2 mile and the voice announce told me my speed I was shocked, I didn’t feel like I was running that fast. Very interesting to see how this develops over time.
After walking all over Washington D.C. last weekend and spending way too many hours stuck behind the wheel driving, I’m back home and back to running. In an effort to keep myself injury free I am starting back very slowly. Today I took my time warming up and then did one mile. I think it took more effort to make myself run this short little run than running a long run. Everything feels fine, just an odd feeling when running just up to the point where I was feeling warmed up and then stopping. Oh well, if that’s what it takes then that’s what I’ll have to do.
I’ve also been doing a lot of reading on minimalist running. Not that I need to try something new and further injure myself, but, it seems that there might be some good lessons and some value to this. I’m going to try adopting some of these ideas. First, I picked up a pair of water shoes from WalMart the other day just to wear walking around in when I’m at the grocery store or around the neighbourhood. Second, removing inserts from shoes in order to reduce the amount of height they add and the cushioning. Trying both of these a little at a time should help build up the muscles in my lower legs and if all the research and the articles are right this should help me run with fewer injuries. Tune in to see what happens.
6 miles Monday night really hurt by Tuesday evening. I tried to get out and run out the stiffness, but only did about a mile with a lot of walking. Everything from my lower back to my ankles hurt. Today I was still pretty stiff when I wormed up. But, I made 2 miles of running at about a 15 minute mile pace. Tomorrow will be better yet. Just keep pushing forward little by little…I think I can, I think I can… 🙂
I know it sounds crazy, but I know this is going to hurt no matter how I do it. Kind of like taking off a Band-Aid… slow or fast? I am not a patient person, so fast has it. I’ve learned that for almost any workout routine it takes 4 days to get past the initial soreness and pain. This goes for weight lifting, swimming, biking and running. Getting through those 4 days is the key because your body is going to scream at you to stop. It’s easy to quit when it hurts, and easy to justify yourself too. Don’t do it, stick with it for at least 4 days, trust me. Learning the difference between good pain and bad pain is a part of running.
We are having perfect running weather here in SC this week, 40’s at night to low 60’s during the day. Loved getting back out on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. If you are in the area look me up and we’ll go running.