This past Sunday morning, I did something I haven't done in possibly years. I went for a run with just myself. No music, no podcasts, and no running buddy. There was nothing coming in between me and my brain.
Running this way used to be no big deal (certainly not worthy of a blog about it), and the only reason it did seem like such as scary prospect is that I haven't done it in ages so I forgot what it's like. You'd think that for someone who meditates every morning, being alone with my thoughts would be, again, no big deal. I had a lot of little fears about it, though. I was afraid of losing motivation and being overwhelmed by the physical challenge, and potential monotony, of running. A lot of times when I'm running with music I think I'm about to keel over, and then a song that I just have to run to comes on and keeps me going.
I underestimated myself, though, as we all do too often. I forgot what a powerful thing it is to just run free. Being alone with my thoughts helps me to both distract myself on a deeper level (which is what the music or conversation is usually there for) and also to be so much more in the moment. The nice thing about running as opposed to yoga is that it's completely fine for your mind to go a million miles away - it's often a necessity to get you through. As my runs increase in length and distance over the next couple of months in preparation for the half marathon, I'm sure I'll understand that on a much deeper level. Although I'm paying attention to my form, the traffic, and those around me, I'm not always focused on my heart rate and my foot falls.
Running without distraction gives you the freedom to daydream, work out a problem, and contemplate whatever your heart could possibly desire - not to mention the ability to possibly get distracted by something going on in the world around you that you might have otherwise not noticed. All of this makes the whole experience so much more enriching.
Earlier today, I was bound and determined to do my scheduled 3 mile run. I had work at Karma Kids in the morning and then a substantial break before I had to be back in the evening to work Pajama Yoga (which is as much fun as it sounds, if you're wondering). I was a little randomly glum in the morning, which I blamed on the rain, and was really looking forward to the run to boost my mood, as it always does.
At 2:30ish or so when I was all laced up and ready to go, I stepped outside...to more pouring, pouring rain. I still took the F uptown, still got out, and still did 3 miles in the Park (during which I quickly realized I don't know anything about any of the running loops in Central Park...some research will be required for the future!), all in the pouring, relentless, driving, and surprisingly chilly rain.
I love running in the rain. Sometimes more than others, but in general I love it. There's always that part of me that winces when my shoes have nowhere to go but a big ol' puddle and can feel the stickiness of the specks of dirt clinging to my calves, and will start to worry if the rain is permeating through my armband into my phone, but even with all that - there's an ultimate surrender to running in the rain. It's raining. It's wet. You are going to get wet no matter what. So you might as well go with it.
So many times in life all you have to do is stop resisting the inevitable and go with it. Running in the rain, for me, is the perfect physical manifestation of surrender. Running without distraction is the ultimate experience of being present with your mind, body, and the world around you.
Who says running and yoga have nothing in common?