Running to keep calm

Are you one of those who can’t get by if you don’t get to go out running? What is it that makes you do it?

I went out running the other day. No big deal for lots of people, perhaps, but for me it has been a process. Running used to be connected to mixed feelings on my part. I didn’t understand why one should go running at all. What was the point? It seemed to me as a very stressful kind of sport, where all you got was bad knees and mosquito attacks.

I changed my mind. Some years ago, I decided I needed more outdoors time. I used to go to the gym, take part in some group training, do some strength excersices, but I never even looked at the treadmill. It seemed so boring. People on the treadmill had such empty eyes, either staring straight ahead without any emotion, or trying to follow some TV-show on the screens conveniently positioned just in front of them.

I started by taking brisk walks. Trying to enjoy nature, looking at the trees, the flowers, the stones I stumbled across. I used the time to think about all my problems. That was not the intention. I had set myself up for a mindful walk, but ended up being more stressed out than when I left home.
Perhaps it was only a matter of doing it more frequently, I thought, and took up biking to work as a way of enjoying the outdoors and getting that every day exercise. Unfortunately, biking to work in Stockholm, makes you one of more than 200 000 people who pedal their way along the narrow passages around the city. Many seem to think they are doing the “tour de France” and take no prisoners when it comes to making their way to work.
That is no easy ride, and certainly not somewhere you dare to practice mindfulness.

So, where would I find piece of mind, be able to push away stress, problems and challenges for some time? It came to me when my walks started to become even brisker, when I put music in my ears and felt like picking up the pace. All of a sudden I was running. Short distances, became long ones and problem solving, was not part of it. I also discovered that I didn’t always need music to keep going. Suddenly, I looked at the amazing scenery I have just a couple of minutes away from my front door, and I felt bliss. Thankful that I have a clean, beautiful environment, where I can exercise for free, and find that mindful space I need.

Running seemed stressful at first, but it’s a good way to trick the body that you have actually run away from whatever is threatening you.

The feeling after a good run is total relaxation, a feeling of both accomplishment and bodily tiredness, that works soothingly on the soul for several hours after having finished.

Running is a way to keep calm. But those treadmills at the gym are still not doing it for me. I might use them now and then, but the effect is nowhere near the effect from running outside, in nature. Thus I have become one of those “running people” and today, even my kids join me from time to time – though they will always be faster than their mother.

I don’t run for speed – I run for peace of mind. Why do you run?

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