Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jogging meditation

In my efforts to be healthier, I've engaged in a variety of exercises: jogging, yoga, biking, kickboxing, zumba, and strength training. By far, the most challenging has been jogging. My body rebels: my knees ache, my lungs burn, my breath is shallow, my legs feel like lead.

I seem an unlikely candidate to run a 5K race. I was not born to run. I am slow. I am nonathletic. In fact, my only B in college came from a PE class! However, when motivated to achieve a goal I become resolute. I typically rise to challenges. My pride pushes me through difficult challenges, just so I can say, "I did it." Long term, though, what will keep me jogging is enjoying and desiring it. And surprisingly, I am beginning to do just that.

The key for me seems to be my frame of mind. When I begin to jog, my mind frantically yells, "You can't do this, you'll feel miserable in just a few minutes. You better walk instead." I fear the feeling of being unable to go on. Of being miserable. One day I decided to talk back to my mind in a modified Deepak Chopra sort of way. I said "I am capable of more than I have tried or dared to dream. Be open to jogging 3 miles." That simple thought allowed me to calm down and jog without so much fear of what might face me a few minutes down the trail. I also had another thought thought while jogging. "I'm going to be open to what I might learn while jogging." My jog through the park has become a time of awareness of and connection with myself and with the world around me. I have begun listening to lectures on yoga and Buddhism while jogging. This has given me the opportunity to ponder and practice some valuable concepts on my run. I have become more appreciative of my body by contemplating the way every cell works to allow me to
run. My feeling and expression of gratitude allows me to work with rather than against my body. I jog to see what my body wants to do on the trail. Towards the end of my run last night, I wanted to slow and walk, but my momentum and quick heart beat propelled me on and I realized it was actually easier to continue jogging.

Jogging at the park is still not easy for me but it is becoming a time of spiritual growth and renewal, a pause in a busy work week which allows me to reconnect with myself and my values. Friday night I sat on a bench by a pond after jogging, appreciating the breeze on my sweaty face and relaxing into the calm summer evening that was fading into night. I was content in that moment as well as pleased to have finally jogged 5k for the first time. I don't think it will be the last.


  1. Yay, DoOrDoNot! Way to go!

    I'll be starting week 9 tomorrow, which will be 30 minutes or 5K. I'm finding exactly the same things as you. When I concentrate on how heavy my legs feel, my breathing, how hot I am I think I just can't go on. But when I use the time to look at the things around me, soak in my environment, think on deeper, more insightful things I tend to loose track of the time, forget about my labored breathing(which in fact becomes less labored) and am compelled to keep going. Most of the time when I think on those things I feel I could continue on farther, but am choosing to stick with the plan.

    Congratulations on running a full 5K!

  2. Thanks D'Ma! I don't know why I'm not following the plan, I'm just defiant I guess. :) I look forward to hearing how week 9 goes for you. Do you have a specific race planned yet? I haven't decided on the first one for myself. My husband is running the Warrior Dash in September in Tennessee.

  3. I think you just have to do what works for you. The plan is probably more of a general guideline, but I tend to do better when I have a plan.

    On September 17 my hometown is having a festival and a 5K run to benefit the Boy's and Girl's Club. I'm already signed up for the run. Then in October I'm planning to run in another 5K in a nearby town.

    I can't wait to hear about the Warrior Dash, though. That looks really interesting!

  4. My B in high school came from tennis. I am completely unathletic...I am 5'1 and uncoordinated and slow...Running the 5 k was such an accomplishment, even if there were people going faster walk/running thsn me jogging the whole way! In regards to the knees, getting good shoes has helped, and i also got custom insoles from the podiatrist.

  5. Like a Child,
    We just continue to have things in common! I'm definitely due for a new pair of shoes. On D'Ma's blog, DagoodS recently suggested running on dirt paths instead of asphalt and concrete and that has made an enormous difference for my knees.

  6. Times innumerable I have started running in a terrible mindset. Bad day at the office or some confrontation, or just a combination of a million things going wrong all at once. And the run, I find, clears my mind. Maybe it is the focus elsewhere, perhaps it is the physical strain taking my mind off the mental.

    Always a good idea to change up one’s route on occasion to see new sights.

    And, to confess, there are days I slog through, thinking about aching thighs the whole way.

    Yeah for your husband signing up for the Warrior Dash. 26,000 people expected in the Michigan run—completely sold out. Our crew is a combination excited/nervous.

    I should reiterate Like a Child’s suggestion on shoes. First…spend $$. The single most important piece of equipment you have is the shoes. I went to a running store, and had them suggest a pair. Do you overpronate or underpronate? If the salesperson doesn’t ask to see you walk—don’t buy at the store.

    Then, once you know what pair to buy, you can get your second (and third and fourth) on-line. I use Saucony’s Hurricane line. (overpronation.) I really, really want to get a light-weight shoe, but they are generally for underpronation—so I must sigh and move on.

    Don’t go into an MC sporting Goods, or Dick’s sporting goods or some mass market sports store and pick up a pair because it “looks good.” Go to a dedicated running store; get a pair you will wear for awhile.

    By the way, running shoes are only good for 500 miles. Run 5 miles 3 days a week and you need new shoes every 8 months! (I generally go quite a bit longer, though.)

  7. DagoodS,
    Thanks for the tip on shoes. I had to look up overpronate; I had never heard that term. There's alot to learn! My husband and I will both need to visit a running store.

  8. We have a store called Get Active in a town nearby where I live. I went there to get my first pair. I had to shell out a good bit of money(to my mind anyway) on a pair. I stood on a machine and it took all kinds of measurements, then I had to walk for the salesman. My right foots rolls outward too much, so I had to get a pair to compensate for that. Shoes are extremely important.

  9. I have gotten mine at fleet feet. Unfortunately i am still experimenting with brands since i have such hard feet to fit. My latest are from Brooks and they might be a keeper...I am lookng forward to eventually being able to order online to save money. Good socks also help, and like Dagood suggested, not wearing them for years!

  10. Looks like there are a lot of runners/joggers among my blogging buddies!

    DaGoodS's advice is pretty good, although I do not have the luxury of a good running store where I live. I have to be content with Big 5 sports which ain't bad. By this time I have my favorite brand and style of shoe that works for me (Saucony fan here too), so I don't really need a sales assistant anymore. My wife RoseMary has the worse overpronation I have ever seen and it causes her a lot of foot and knee pain - fortunately New Balance has a shoe that is perfect for her.

    You are also right about the meditation while running. I never listen to anything when I run (how people can run with plugs in their ears is beyond me) but the sound of my breathing and footfalls is almost hypnotic. I do some of my heaviest and deepest thinking and relaxing while running.

    Always remember, when you start getting anxious about a difficult run, that the first mile of a run is always the worst (unless you are running a marathon of course ;-). Your body will quickly adjust. Focus on something besides the labor and you will get through it.

    I do most of my running along dirt trails out in the desert. My most important equipment is a water bottle and a belt to hold it in. I have to keep a constant eye on the ground for rattlesnakes. But I am addicted and have been for years. Good luck and maybe I will see you out on the trail sometime!

  11. How awesome. I did the couch to 5K last year and it was a real accomplishment. My body is NOT built for running. It was a real struggle with my body and my mind too. This summer I wasn't so committed -I had a few bad runs and gave up :( It has been a busy/stressful summer though and I decided to give myself a break. Who needs another thing to feel guilty about?

  12. I started the couch to 5k a few months ago and on week 2 I hurt something in my leg that began to hurt all the time, even when I walked. So I had to stop for 6-8 weeks and I've not started it up again. I'm disappointed in myself, for that but I plan to start again once my kids start pre-k. That's next week. I always have running through my head how hard this is and how I want to stop. I look forward to using some of the techniques you mentioned here. Also I will be needing new shoes the comments about the shoes were very helpful. Thanks!

  13. theagnosticswife,
    Good luck to you. I hope you have a more positive experience this time around. Let me know how it goes. I really thought I was torturing myself when I first began, but now I truly enjoy jogging. I hope that is your experience as well. I look forward to getting some new shoes myself. I was about to and then our car required some major repairs, so that took precedence!

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