Why I Run: Exercise and Meditation

running is meditation

Every time I tell people I run, they ask: “Are you training for a marathon?” Or they ask if I’ve ever run a marathon.

Somehow, most of us believe that running a marathon is the ultimate benchmark of running. I used to think that too.

The ‘Marathon’ story is probably one of the most well-known stories in the world. The most mythical version goes like this:

The Persians were battling the Greeks in the fifth century B.C. And at the Battle Of Marathon, the Athenian army was outnumbered four to one. There was a full-on battle going on at Marathon.

The Persians were losing, and some of them decided to set sail for Athens. In the meantime, the Greeks won the battle. So the Greeks asked a guy named Pheidippides to run to Athens (26 miles away) to warn them about the approaching Persian ships.

Do you think that’s impressive? Well, there’s more. BEFORE our first ‘Marathoner’ ran 26 miles, he’d run 140 miles already to ask the Spartan army for help. That took him 36 hours.

Also, the 140 miles he ran was a one-way trip. So he had to run another 140 miles all the way back to give them the message that the Spartans couldn’t help them out. Imagine how poor old Pheidippides felt.

Anyway, the guy represents the fittest man on earth. He pushed the limits of human endurance. Impressive, indeed.

Oh yeah, I missed one detail: The poor bastard DIED after he delivered his final message in Athens.

What’s impressive about that? I prefer to not die after a run.

To me, running has no end goal.

Let’s not even discuss whether this story is true or not. It’s a pretty good story. But it’s a story. A myth.

Nevertheless, I have a lot of respect for people who run marathons and ultramarathons. And if that’s what motivates you, go for it.

But that’s not how I’m wired. And I see a lot of people who pick up running for the wrong reasons. I’ve also experienced that myself.

I thought that running a race is the only reason you should run. But once I learned more about myself, I discovered that I don’t care about races. I’m not competitive in that way. In fact, it even demotivates me when I try to train for a race.

I hate running with an end in mind.

  • “I want to run 10K.”
  • “I want to run a marathon.”
  • “I want to run 5K in 20 minutes.”

I get that it motivates others. But I don’t care about that. Also, when I fail to achieve goals like that, I feel like I’ve failed. And then I quit running for a while.

I don’t know why that is. But I just know that it doesn’t work for me to set goals for running. Also, I hate to run with other people or in crowded places. So running a race is out of the question for me anyway.

Running is my meditation.

A lot of people love traditional meditation. I don’t. I’ve tried it. Just not my style.

But I do like the outcome of the mediation. Ask people who meditate daily, and they say it changed their life. They feel more in control of their life, emotions, energy, and focus.

Who doesn’t want that?

And that’s exactly the effect running has on me. But here’s the thing: I have to approach running as meditation. Not like a race.

You don’t compete in meditation battles, right?

“Yeah dude! My meditation skills beat yours every day of the week! Suck on that.”

It doesn’t make sense. You do it for the process and the outcome. Not to prove something.

One of my friends meditates for years. She told me she achieves different states of mind after years of meditation. In a way, she’s better at it now. She’s more consistent, can do it for longer, and she gets more powerful outcomes. That took practice.

Like she says: “Meditation is more than closing your eyes and saying hmmm.”

I can relate because when you run for years, you’re much more in control of your body, breath, thoughts, energy, muscles, and life.

And that’s why I run.

  • Not because it’s cool
  • Not because I can buy cool running gear
  • Not because I can brag about it
  • Not because others run
  • Not because it’s healthy

I run because I need it. It’s more about self-awareness, focus, and productivity than it is about fitness.

When I run, I don’t think about anything else. I only focus on breathing through my nose, the way I land my feet, how fast I run, and how my body feels. And at the same time, I try to enjoy the outdoors too.

Tune out from the world. Every day.

This article is not about how to build a daily running habit (this one is). It’s also not about convincing you that running is good or bad.

And that you get ideas, or that it will make you more productive. Those things are true, yes, but it’s not the most important thing.

I want to challenge you to find your own form of meditation. Find a way to tune out from the world and become one with the present.

Sit down on the floor and repeat your favorite word, go mountain biking, walk in the hills, swim in the sea, whatever works for you.

Just make sure you get out of it all every single day. And when you come back, you’ll be ready to take on all this madness of life again with full force.

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