#NationalRunningDay: The Mindful Battle of the Runner

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(#NationalRunningDay was last week. Apologies for a delayed, hashtag irrelevant post. My mom was trying to log into my Netflix account to watch Madmen but couldn’t figure it out. She needed my help, so I was late getting the post up.)

 

 

Whenever a hashtag is involved, and something is trending on Twitter, it is a thing. It’s real.

#NationalRunningDay is soooo a thing.

I’m out on Arbor Day, and I think Columbus was kind off a dick, but #NationalRunningDay is real. It’s real and it needs to be celebrated. Celebrated, and then understood.

What is important about #NationalRunningDay and what does it represent?

Running, in a form measurable either by time or distance, demands physical and mental strength. To run, before one can even worry about improvement, requires fortitude—in some capacity. Anyone who has tried to push through “the wall”, or carry a pace beyond realistic means because you’re tailing “sportsbra”, understands this. It (running) is one of those things will make you better in all facets of your life because of what it demands. When you set out to improve, and do more of it, the reach of running expands too. The wellness and strength it (still running) inculcates is in everything you do. The strength of a runner can be seen in the strength of a career.*

And then, in what I think is just the coolest, is mindfulness. Outside of specific, pointed meditations, running does more to connect you to the present than just about anything else. Whether you are cognizant of your stride or locked in on your surroundings, you are present. You are aware of the dog, dropping a turd, and you see the twin cannons on the mom, snagging her mail. You are mindful. You move past aesthetics, too, and you connect with your body. Your stride is your gauge and your pace is malleable. You feel your chest, as slow breath becomes difficult, and you note your stomach, because Kale goes right through you. Mindfully present, you run.

Most neat, though, aside from confidently using the word neat, is the internal dialogue running precipitates. Through struggle, referring back to figurative wall, motivation and belief are what push you forward. You remind yourself why you’re running and why you want to improve. This is mental fortitude, and it grabs hold as a conversation with yourself. And mindfulness, in similar form, or at least until you gain an elite level control of your conscious thinking, is a conversation too. That is a good thing. I also don’t know anyone with elite level conscious control. That’s terrifying.

* Before I began running I don’t know if I would have had the nerve to snag “inculcate” from the thesaurus and sell it as my own. But I’m a sub 6-minute mile guy now. It’s not an issue.

That’s it. Maintain your breath, maintain your stride. Keep this pace.

First mile of the run, nearly complete. Knew that for two reasons:

  1. Running the LSU Lakes and I know their topographic mile markers.
  2. “Thinking Out Loud”, by Ed Sheeran, was almost done playing. Mile time consistent with “Thinking Out Loud”, played twice.

Lock in. Lock in and focus. Keep your most efficient pace and keep your stride easy. Focus.

Tangling through the second mile, as the street winds and swirls in form of the lake. Adam Levine was bringing it!

Steady pace. Steady stride.

Starting to feel the elements. Louisiana heat, in June, is part of the challenge. Actually, it is, like, 99 percent of the challenge. It is hot.

Passed by a senior citizen with double-barrel knee brace action. He is hunched over but moving very quickly. He doesn’t respect me.

Focus. Four miles left. Easy stride. Easy breath.

Nearing completion of mile two (“Miracles”, duet Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston). Take a left onto a main street. The road runs between the two LSU lakes. First meet resistance here. The sun burns down and as cars pass I am goaded into a quickening, more athletic pace. Adrenaline carries me through this quarter mile stretch. There is heavy traffic and I always assume every car is filled with an attractive woman looking for a serious relationship. I run faster than I should.

Take another left onto a neighborhood street. Approaching the midway point. Starting to experience pain—labored breathing.

Live in a commitment to optimal living, in health and mind. Easy stride. Improvement in perpetuity.

Make myself slow down. Running is about intelligence.

Find you pace. Rest in your breath and know your stride.

Put hand in pocket, switching over to Pandora: Huey Lewis and the News. I’m hurting. Need positive, Huey Lewis, Phil Collins, Sss, sss, ssudio, type vibes.

Advertisement.

Fuck.

Double up advertisement.

Fuck.

Pay the $3.99/month for Pandora Plus.

Advertisement (continued).

Can’t be more than fifteen seconds of commercial left.

Maintain.

Persist.

Fast, legal rambling at end of advertisement.

“Higher Love”, Steve Winwood!!!

Yesssssss! Embrace the music. Lighten your step and control your stride. Sync your body with the emotive, musical state of your mind. Quit singing, though. Preserve your breath.

Mile 3. Chest wheezing and heavy, burdensome legs set in. Initial high from Huey Lewis switch, and similar genre sound, wear off. Pain.

Pain (continued).

Reality is perception. Think on your health and note your progress. Enjoy the experience. Do not acknowledge the pain.

Now running through a beautiful, lake front neighborhood. Overhanging, stately Oak trees line and shadow the street. The overhang produces a gossamer of shade and moss. Beautiful.

Cramp!

That’s a cramp!

Functional hobble. I slow, but I do not stop. Nearing mile 4.

I’ve elongated my stride. The cramp has dissipated. I’m experiencing a temporary respite from pain.

Elongate your stride. Your cramp is dissipating. This is a temporary respite from pain.

A nice breeze meets me from the lake. It lasts for near a minute. I run in tree covered shade.

Revel in this feeling. Familiarize yourself with your body and mind when you feel good.

Advertisement.

Overcome.

Hot mom, pulling weeds, minimal clothing.

Elongate.

Fit dad with a push stroller approaching, trying to pass on my left.

Stagger and swerve.

Mile 5. Homestretch.

The strength leaving me is palpable.

The breath leaving me is painful. I keep running. I’m tempted to stop.

Small battles. Focus on the lakeside bench ahead. It is only a quarter of a mile. Get there. Small victories. Steady breath. Control what you can control.

Fraternity houses flank on the left. They rest upon the edges of the lake. The torment and physical anguish happening in my torso and chest can best be described in an alignment with how the Fraternities appear:

Disheveled, tattered siding. Group of six “bros”, on the lawn, tormenting a younger “bro” trying to finish a beer. They call him a “turd,” and a “lil b*tch” and they are vehemently opposed to the respect and compassion he gives to his girlfriend. They make him drink another beer. He is going to throw up.

 Turn away. Steady breath, easy stride. Turn away. Don’t throw up. Control what you can control.

“Shape of You,” Ed Sheeran. I turn back to my playlist. Helps for a small instance. I see the parking lot where I started. I then see the three-quarter mile lake turn I must summit before getting there. I hit the wall.

Chest on fire. Legs like lead. I’ve lost awareness of my mental anchors (breath and stride).

Turmoil.

You went over 5 miles. You can stop. Walk to your car from here.

I’m about to stop.

I see a large, Victorian style sorority house on my right. Still jogging. There is a young girl sitting on a bench in between two boys. She says something. She is playing games. One boy gets up and staggers away, dejected. I see this because I am mindful. His dismal walk registers; as does her vibe (haughty). I relate. My beliefs are triggered.

You are committed to personal growth and improvement in perpetuity. Cultivate wellness. Live in progress and keep running. Get better and become stronger. She left you for a hockey player. Improve—control what you can control.

Accelerate pace.

Life comes back to the legs. Air comes back to the lungs.

Constant improvement.

Rounding the last turn, passing the last sorority house (Phi Mu’s in the house say hey!). Momentum. I’m enveloped in personal drive and pursuit. Endorphins flood me.

Sprint.

This is why you run. This is where you become the person you want. This is self-worth and this is self-respect.

500 yards to parking lot.

Finish strong.

400 yards.

Athletic strides.

300 yards. I see the old guy from earlier.

Sprint.

245 yards.  Paces behind old guy.

Catch him. Finish better than you began. Catch him.

Push.

220 yards. Periphery eye-contact.

Push.

195 yards.

Push.

180 yards.

Push.

I push again and I absolutely dust this dude with a rotting explosion of Kale bubble gut.

Final 175 yards. Sprint to my car.

6.2 miles, total, ending with a bang.

Control what you can control.

 

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