RUNNING AS MEDITATION

Nothing has had a bigger impact on my life than running.
I am anti any form of organised religion but running is I suppose my religion in that I beleive in running it supports,uplifts,restores my faith in human kind (thankyou to that guy who gave me his last compeed at the Exmoor Stagger) it motivates it disciplines and it unites it also has meditative qualities.
A girl at college and I had a huge debate about wether or not you could reach a state of mind where you were not thinking at all. She said meditation was b****cks and you are always thinking of something. I wanted to tell her she should try long distance running because you really do zone out.
But I spied the fag in her hand and the grey complection of someone who only raises her her heart rate when she runs to get the bus and I didn't bother.

Does anyone else get to that state of mind where they forget that they are running?
Where you only realise you zoned out when you snap out of it again?
If so does this still happen on Ultra runs?
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Comments

  • yes often but I run with music so maybe that doesnt count
  • I wish
    For me it remains a struggle to keep going
    ( ive done a marathon)
  • Once very briefly, scared the living daylights out of me when I snapped out of it trying to remember the last minute or so. Couldn't remember seeing any cars go by (busy road), if I was breathing (mid run so usually gasping) or the feel of the foot path under foot. Lucky there wasn't anybody in front of me.
  • i would like to reach this state of mind more often but the only time i've really reached it was on a very quiet forest path and it made the run seem half as long as it was (only about an hour but seemed 30mins) i've read in various places about "medative running" and they seem to suggest it should be in a quite location away from roads and running on your own
    theres my two cents ...and twenty spelling mistakes
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    The opposite applies with me - I do all my best cogitation when I'm bimbling happily through a couple of hours or so. It's when I experience all those "why didn't I think of that before?" moments, usually about things completely unrelated to running.

    But the end result is the same as after meditation I suppose (I'm not into meditation, just guessing here) - when I'm finished, I'm thoroughly relaxed and chilled. Together with the feeling of being pleasantly physically knackered, it makes for a potent feel-better tonic.

    It's not only on the long-distance stuff, either. If I'm really stressed I find a good bit of blasting up hills is a great relief. Especially if I visualize the face of whoever pissed me off under my shoe for every pace.

    I wouldn't advocate switching off the grey matter altogether while running, for safety reasons. But my mind certainly wanders.

    How to get high without a spliff!
  • One day i wiil get there
    every step is hard at the moment
  • I wouldn't want to stop thinking when I'm running. Running makes you really aware - you see, hear, smell and sometimes feel the countryside around you and are always aware of how your body is working, even when those sensations are painful.

    Meditation of the sort you describe is good too, but not when on the move over uneven ground.

    On the other hand, my brain often switches off when I'm driving and from the evidence of my eyes I would guess that this is a common phenomenon.
  • Feel the Force, young Skywalker. Jedi runner you are.
  • Very occasionally, about two-thirds of the way into a long run (which is 6 miles for this poor ageing novice!) I have a feeling of being totally detached from everything (I don't think it's dehydration or low blood sugar because it feels good!). My breathing is on automatic, rather than continual desperate gasping, and I feel as if I could keep going forever. Sadly, it generally lasts only a few minutes. If I could find a way of achieving this state regularly, I'd run with a lot more enthusiasm!
  • I think that if you have stuff on your mind you need to think it all away. I start my longer runs at the bottom of a long climb and usually the first ten minutes or so are spent saying
    "why the f*** am I doing this?"
    or
    "if HE thinks I am going to make the bed again he can..."
    or
    "SLOW THE F*** DOWN"

    Of course once you are rid of the angry tension or whatever else was on your mind it helps me to just switch off.
    But I agree that on tracks or trails or in a field where you have just spotted some angry bullocks it is probably better to stay more alert!
  • Strangely enough, I had this experience yesterday about 3 miles into a 5.5 miler.
    Since I was unaware until after the event, I can only guess it lasted for about 1/2 mile. I can remember seeing all the traffic etc, however cant remember any thoughts, including concentrating on my breathing and pace.
    I remember reading once that one method of meditation is to try to extend the time between one thought and the next. (Heavy s**t)

    Kaine
  • Since I run almost always on forest trails, I find it easy to go onto autopilot. My mind tends to drift over all sorts of topics and sometimes I even find myself singing in my head. Sometimes I review events and conversations, occasionally write essays or letters in my head. But frequently on really long runs I do experience the floating runner's high and feel I could run for ever. On those days I do generally extend my run even further.
  • THANK YOU IRONWOLF... I am not alone... I think once you have experienced this state of mind you will strive to acheive it on most runs.

    To run...to breathe... and forget...everything...bliss
  • I zen out really easily on easy runs but not on tempo runs.
    When I am not zenning out I either sing to myself (in my head) or listen to radio 2 on my mobile phone (it was a fantastic idea to make mobiles that are also radios!!)
  • Afriend of mine who I believe to be unnaturally intelligent and a professor to boot once confessed to me that when he ran he could think whereas when he swam he could only count.

    I think this is true although it may only apply if you are swimming in a swimming pool and keep having to reverse direction. Maybe if you were running in a gym hall you would start counting instead of just thinking.

    In the days when I had t work for a living I used to reckon that my run at lunchtime kept me sane. I could think about anything or nothing and start the second half of the day refreshed.

    I think running along a well known route helps you relax and also helps get things in perspective regeardless of whether the thinking is conscious or subconscious.

    Time to go to bed and get unconscious
  • Cheeky monkee, you're definitely not alone. And although this doesn't seem to get raised very often on the forums I think it's what makes running so compelling for many people (though for some I get the feeling it's 99% about competition, not saying there's anything wrong with that, only that it's a different motivation).
    I have 2 states, funnily enough I was reflecting on what creates them only today. One is the euphoric high I personally get from running close to my anaerobic threshold, or 1/2 marathon pace if you like. It makes me feel completely relaxed and 'at one' with my body (hard to describe without feeling a bit embarrassed) I usually also feel it during racing, and afterwards it gradually wears off over a couple of hours.
    The other is related to the landscape around me and is most closely to the meditative state you describe. It's like you stop thinking and can just 'be' whilst being very aware of the sights and smells around me. Occasionally happens on sunny days on off road runs.
    Those are the runs I'd give up last.
    Thanks for starting this thread!
  • I think about absolute fluff when I'm running. I think it's a kind of state where I can think about crap without feeling guilty about it, because it's just filling in time where I'm actually doing something useful! I can't say I get a high (unless you count the sort of sweaty smug relief you get when you get home at last) but there are times--quite frequent--where my little arms and legs seem to obediently work by themselves, nothing actually hurts, and I can trundle along for miles like a little clockwork mouse.

    Go faster when I see a cat, mind.
  • Laura,

    I agree with you I also have two running states. With the odd third state of awkward breathing, being aware of every inch you cover and it lasting forever, when that happens I always feel eager to get back out the next day and and run better.
    I think the state of mind where you can just "be" ,as you put it,and you feel you could go on forever, is mainly helped by how well your breathing is? What do you think?
  • I think if all is well, i.e you have fresh legs & energy it's very easy to zone out. For me it's one of the pleasures of running.
    If I'm out on a long run I can zone out & not remember how I got to be where I am at that point. A bit scary if it lasted for 4-5 miles but I think it's only for short periods of say 4-5 min. The countyside & running by the sea helps.
    On the other hand doing a hard session is a really good way to get rid of any agression.
    I do enjoy raceing but some of the best feelings have come during training session's
    Lets face it running is the best drug in the world to make you as high as a kite. [Not that I have ever tried anything illegal & never would]I think you know what I mean?

    Tim
  • Absolutely Tim - just like the feeling this morning out in the woods, deep snow all around, just me and junior wolf cub. I stopped for a minute to just listen - complete silence! Wonderful. Do you know how rare that is nowadays in this noisy world of ours?
  • I get the zoned-out, no-thought feeling loads when I'm surfing (although at this time of year that could be due to hypothermia). Often to the extent of not really having a full memory of what I just did on a wave or how much time has passed. Also get it on long runs a fair bit, and my mind wanders loads. Definitely think it helps running on trails, beaches etc.
  • Stangely, the best running sensation that I have ever had was during the Reading 1/2Marathon - my first ever 1/2 Marathon about 4 years ago. The course is really busy but when I split from the slower runners and suddenly upped the pace I got an adrenalin surge that I have not experienced (at the same level) since.
    My legs were hitting the road, but I couldn't feel the impact.
    My heart and lungs were working very hard, but I felt no pain.
    I had no worries and was as care-free as a child in a play-park.

    It was probably then that I realised that I was never going to give up running.
  • I quite often get the impression that I have stopped thinking and breathing, but mainly at work.
  • I positively search for this state particularly during the all to common half marathon for which I have undertrained. It is more difficult for us men though as we are genetically programmed to think about sex at least once every 5 nipples.
  • I mean minutes.
  • I find I have stages of feeling (or comfort really). The first 20 minutes I find hard and laboured which I don't particularly enjoy.

    After 20 minutes I seem to settle in to comfortable pace. At this point I feel very relaxed, almost euphoric, and I feel like I could run all day like this.

    After about 90 minutes though it starts to get uncomfortable again and I just want it to be over.
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