There are meditation wines: those you have to drink in front of a fireplace (lit, if possible) on a comfortable chair and sip, with voluptuousness and concentration. Those that express flavors and aromas that only careful examination can reveal. Those that open mental doors and levels of meaning for you, as if they were synthetic drugs.
Good, but what does this have to do with running?
Okay, I’m being honest: I am slow. Guys, I go at my speed, which, in objective terms or relative to other, many other, runners is low. Yes, this is a confession: I am a slow runner. I’m smart, though, and if you ask me how fast I’m going, I’ll never tell you I’m slow. No, I answer that I am a meditative runner. So at least while the one who asked me is wondering what it means, I have already run away.
How do you notice that you are slow?
Well, that’s easy: if you measure your runs you can see it and you can compare it with what others do who *obviously* never fail to post on Facebook or Twitter that they ran and how fast they are going (I respect those who do that, but I don’t like to do it. In fact, I don’t, and not just because I have nothing to brag about).
Or you notice it when you run with others. Like me: every time I go running with friends who are not even Mo Farah or Bolt, I get off to a buoyant start and keep up with them, and then, from the middle of the race on until the end, I back off, lose ground, sometimes walk. And those darn things are pulling like hell and spacing me out. But you know what? Who cares.
How to avoid embarrassment when you do it in a group
(somewhat allusive as a title? Um).
Going slower than others has two unpleasant consequences: you make a fool of yourself because you dared to join a group or you run with a friend who goes faster than you and you are forcing him/her to go slower than they normally go.
When I feel that I can’t keep up and that I have to slow down, I have my good tricks:
I have to take a picture
Yell it out with what little breath you have left in your body. Even if you are in a landfill or under the universal flood, stop to take a picture. In truth you stop to avoid a heart attack, but it doesn’t count. You must first have built a reputation as an eclectic photographer who focuses on the strangest things, like precisely dumps or places no one would dream of photographing.
Did you too see that bear?
This technique at least allows you to slow down some of these raging lunatics you run with. The terror of being attacked by a bear will certainly stop them. Until they wonder what the heck a bear should be doing in Cairoli in Milan. And then send you to hell.
Identify the slowest of the group
First, hope that you are not the slowest one, and then, if there is one, pull him over and whisper to him in a fatherly way, “Go easy, I’m not leaving you behind. I’m with you to the end.” If you are the one they say these words to, well, you are the slowest and you can’t use this trick. Appreciate the help offered, though!
Don’t tie your shoes properly
What could be better than a shoe coming untied just when your heart is going 230 beats per minute to keep up with those darned running buddies?
“Boy I have to stop: shoe.” And you point to it, a little bit sorry. And don’t forget to add, “Go ahead, I’ll catch you later!” Which you know very well will never happen.
Running means going fast. Faster than when walking. Okay. I would add, though, that it means going faster than yourself while walking. That’s why I call myself a meditation runner: when I run, I never go full throttle because for me running is a physical activity that forces me to focus on one activity in a given amount of time. Actually, reduced to the bone, the race is this for me. Do one thing now. Concentrate by escaping the distractions I am subjected to every day, at all hours.
So when I run I am focused on one thing: that’s why I meditate. And I enjoy meditating very much. Running gives me new ideas, frees my imagination, and brings my body and mind back into balance.
Running minding the time and focusing only on physical exertion would distract me too much. It’s not just that I don’t want to make too much effort. I just like to make the right amount. I don’t want to win races except with myself. To win the daily race with myself for me is to go running methodically, as much as I can, in any weather.
I am not fast, but I have a method and discipline.
And that’s enough for me.
How about you?
(Photo credits from Flickr by Kenny Whyte)