Saturday, December 26, 2015

What I Think About When I Run

Today I ran 19 miles. It took me a little under four hours of time all by myself.

Some people have asked me "What do you think about when you are out running for hours at a time?"

Sometimes I listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook. But other times I focus on becoming aware of my self -- I am practicing being 'self-conscious' in a good way. It is another angle on my perspective of 'running into my self'. In those times, I just let myself think whatever comes into my head, and play around with those thoughts.

Sometimes the thoughts are 'good' (read: creative and hopeful and positive) and I dwell there and see where they take me. I get energized and excited and uplifted by these trains of thought.

Other times the thoughts are 'bad' (read: destructive, defeatist/fatalistic, and negative/hurtful)...and like with 'good thoughts' I also dwell there, and see where they take me. I allow myself to dwell there for awhile in the hopes that I'll get to the root of those fears or angers, etc -- and by allowing myself to 'go there' I'll let those things out of me instead of keeping them bottled up inside me like I have done for so much of my life before now.

And sometimes after a train of thought (good or bad) finishes, I just. Stop. Thinking. For awhile. I like it when that happens too. My mind gets to rest so infrequently that I treasure it when it happens.

And recently, in that place of solitude and openness, I have begun to contemplate. Not just in the sense of turning an idea over in my head and looking at it from a variety of directions, but I mean 'contemplate' in a more spiritual sense.

Dr. Warren A. Kay, in his book "Running -- The Sacred Art" says
"Contemplation is the activity of self-consciously living in the presence of God."
And in "New Seeds of Contemplation", Thomas Merton says
" spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible and transcendent, and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith."
When I am running contemplatively, I am learning to see things I might not otherwise see -- in nature, in others, and even in myself.

Today I saw an outcropping on a tree which seemed to point to the sun so I paused to express my own reverence.

I reflected that even in the midst of the fog‬, there is still a right direction‬ to head; a way forward even if the future is unclear. I just need to keep looking for the signs‬.

And later after I got home and reviewed my run I realized that outcropping in silhouette also looks like Rocky Balboa at the end of his epic run -- also very inspirational!

~ Keith