MINDFUL MONDAY: Do you stop when you run?

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I'm noticing a somewhat macho trend in fitness training in general, where it's fashionable to work yourself to exhaustion; where you're led to believe that if you don't “feel the burn” and give it everything you've got… that you just don't “Do It,”… as the Nike ad says. There is, of course, a lot to be said for building will power and challenging yourself to feel your limits. But, there's also a lot to be said for not taking yourself, or your running, too seriously.

There are certain times in my own running when I won't think about stopping, like when I'm practicing pacing, running a time trial, or needing to outrun a lightning storm. But, for the most part, I allow myself to stop when I need to. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, here are some of the times when I stop running:

I stop whenever I cross a stream or river, large or small. It's one of my favorite rituals for gathering chi. I pause and take a moment to look upstream to feel the energy of the water flowing towards me. I let the impression of the flowing water fill me like a cool drink on a hot day. Then, before I move on, I briefly turn to face downstream and feel the movement of water flowing downstream and I bring that feeling into my body as I take off running again.

I stop and walk for a bit when I'm losing focus. I sometimes forget to do the things that keep my energy flowing as freely as it could. This usually happens late in a long run when I feel my energy lag. As I'm walking, I check my posture, take a few deep breaths and focus my eyes on a spot up ahead. A brief walking spell does the trick of reorganizing my brain and bringing me back into my body.

I stop when I come to an exceptional view that I don't want to miss. Sometimes I just find myself in a scene that feels like a National Geographic moment. These are the times that feed my soul; they're the times when something in me says, “If you don't stop and take this in, you're not honoring yourself or Nature.” In this case, stopping is the most nourishing thing I can do for myself… on many levels.

I stop when my running partners need to make a pit-stop. It just feels inconsiderate not to.

I stop when I need to rearrange my clothing, for whatever reason. It takes less time than trying to do a half-assed job with it, while trying to run at the same time.

And, lastly, I stop when my body tells me to stop. It has rarely paid off for me to not listen when it's speaking the truth; when it's telling me that no real good will come by continuing on. All I can say is, the more you take a mindful approach to stopping, the more you'll know when it's the right thing to do.

Posted in Mindfulness

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