As a child I hated running, I hated walking. In fact I would pretty much do anything possible to get out of putting one leg in front of the other. I have always maintained I would rather swim somewhere than walk and it would probably be faster too!
I would feign sleep on the evenings when my parents had been out, coming to collect me from the neighbours’ house and making my father carry me back so I wouldn’t have to walk.
I had to do cross-country running at school. It was more of a trudge in wet muddy woodlands for me and in the later years of my education, an opportunity to smoke unseen by the teachers.
I started running just over 5 years ago in a fit of holiday madness, the following year I managed a 10km charity run and have run intermittently since.
Until recently, almost every step for my runs was clouded with thoughts of “why am I doing this when I hate it so much, it is painful, boring, too cold, too hot, too sweaty, and so on.” Basically no joy in the activity whatsoever.
I’ve started running again, but this time I’ve been listening to a meditation app which talks you through the run and most interestingly, how you should actually start a run.
I used to set off at a cracking pace (relatively speaking!) and pretty much torture myself to try and maintain it till the finish. While I might have felt an element of satisfaction at the achievement of completion, I wouldn’t say that I was desperate to plan my next run any time soon.
Now with the help of the meditation app, I set off at a gentle pace to not only allow my body to warm up physically but to let my mind warm to the idea too. I maintain this pace for at least 15 mins (yes, I’m a slow starter!) and then when I begin to feel the runners’ high, if I feel like it I may up the pace a bit.
I have found in the last few runs that by the end I’m running strong and tall but more importantly, I am actually enjoying myself and planning when I will go for my next one!
The start is the most important part of the run. Setting up the body and mind so that you are able to focus on each foot fall or the correct running posture etc,. In short, actually being present in the moment and allowing the process to unfold naturally rather than fighting it.
I find myself amused at how surprised and impressed I am with this “running” technique when it is actually the technique I aim to use every time I go freediving.
Every session, I try to arrive at the dive line calm and focused. I do my two warm up dives, concentrating on my body and mind being as relaxed and present as possible, after which I am then mentally and physically ready to do my deep dive.
If my physical and mental preparation has worked, chances are that I will have a joy filled dive that will ease the path for further depth progression without me being hung up on the numbers.
Eckhart Tolle said “Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”
Creating the right mental and physical environments to allow the processes to unfold naturally and joy to arise is certainly a skill that I need and want to practise more for freediving and running. But I imagine it works for pretty much any activity in life.