One of the most common experiences among runners is connecting (or, unfortunately and more often, re-connecting) with nature. Indeed, part of the running experience is determined by being able to experience it immersed in nature, in touch with its cycles, finally realizing the change of seasons and, with them, temperatures, scents, and light.
Running at the end of the day is also a way to get closer to our origin: to go back to our roots, our own childhood and the feelings and emotions that defined it. It was not just a different age anagraphically: it was a radically different, much more natural way of living.
Based on the assumption that “being more human” also means living more naturally, ultrarunner and life coach Tony Riddle shared in an interview how he lives this way, starting with his passion for barefoot running, meaning literally barefoot. He is an expert in the field, as in 2020 he set the barefoot running record by covering 450 miles between England, Wales and Scotland.
Riddle alternates between training and work. Because he is a life coach, many of his meetings take place remotely, especially in the mornings and afternoons, when he also records podcasts. Such a well-balanced life between personal care–physical and psychological–and work, is clearly helped by his job but it is not certain that his example cannot provide insights for you as well.
As soon as he wakes up
The day begins with 20 minutes of mindful mobility, a kind of yoga that is more physical and dynamic, and then continues with 100 cycles of nasal breathing. A protein smoothie and then an immersion in nature: it can be a walk or an ice bath: the latter in particular has the function of getting him accustomed to staying focused and not giving in to his emotions, which can come in handy in the course of the day when some emergency or unpleasant event at work may occur.
Work takes him 6 to 8 hours a day, and the evening is devoted to his family, ending at 9 o’clock when he falls asleep.
As you can see, every physical activity is aimed at seeking concentration, to allow him to do his work in an extremely focused manner, without distraction or deviation.
How he works
Riddle starts with an observation: we have become accustomed to spending 90 percent of our time indoors, sitting at a desk or otherwise moving little or nothing. That is why his workstation is peculiar: it is in fact a table to which he sawed off part of the legs to allow him to bring his center of gravity closer to the earth, in search of a long-lost contact. His advice is also to move as much as possible: after 25 minutes of sitting he gets up, takes a few steps and does some squats. He generally limits the time spent in front of the computer as much as possible.
That is why he coined a new term, opposite to “screen-time”: he calls it”sky time” i.e., the time he is exposed to the open air and the sky. How? He usually has meetings and phone calls, if he can, while walking or being otherwise outdoors. If he has to sit for a meeting instead, his rule is to schedule them, leaving a few minutes in between so that he can do exercises or a short walk in the meantime.
The quality of light is also central to him: so he avoids blue light from screens as much as possible because it disturbs sleep and creates stress. To remedy this he uses working with amber lenses to warm the light emitted by the monitor, an effect that can also be achieved for some time anyway by automatically adjusting the light temperature of screens according to the time of day.
What if it’s bad outside? We bring nature indoor, of course! In fact, Riddle recommends surrounding ourselves with plants that purify the air and have a calming effect on our minds.
Well, that’s easy considering his job.
That’s true, however, it is also true that what he suggests is just his typical day, made up of elements and nodal points. Nothing prohibits from using it as a menu from which to choose what you reasonably can do.
Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to do hours of exercise and walking/running early in the morning but you can always apply his 25-minute rule and then get up and walk a little bit to work or you can always leave some room for yourself between appointments. You can make call outdoors, walking in the meantime.
It’s about doing something revolutionary and yet so simple: in addition to your work commitments, put in your calendar something equally important and yet overlooked, and that is the so-called “me time,” that is, the time you devote to yourself. To not go crazy and thus be more rested and relaxed when working.
It seems impossible until you try it.