This past weekend I went off on a 3 hour run on a long and desolate dirt road that stretches to the horizon. It’s an out and back route with the foothills to my right on my way out. Herds of cow periodically disperse the open fields and antelope can be seen far away with their gaze directed towards me wondering if I pose a threat to their habitat.
About halfway into it, I felt something that I haven’t felt in a long while.
Today I did that run again. Same route and same distance.
Again, halfway into it my mind seemed to melt away. A separation of body and mind from the rhythms of running. At times my mind is completely blank as if I purposely set out to meditate in motion and there are times that my mind is so deep in thought, that I feel the disconnect from the physical self.
For about 30 minutes today I was “gone.”
I know that there are 3 cattle guards that I have to carefully cross when I do this route but as I approached the middle one today, I felt completely lost.
The surrounding area looked unfamiliar, even though I am quite familiar with this run.
As I reached the cattle guard, I even looked all around thinking there was no way that I was already back to this one and I was thinking that I had never seen that part before. It’s only this road and no turn offs. “Where am I?” I asked myself.
Then I realized I was completely zenned out for the last 30 minutes and immediately recognized why I haven’t experienced that in a long time.
When I first started to get into running about 5 years ago, I tried to run with music once. It felt completely unnatural. I couldn’t find a rhythm with my feet or my breath.
As the years went on, I formed the belief that running should be about disconnecting from technology. Running is one of the most natural things in the world. One thing that I love about running is that by disconnecting, I am able to connect with myself and the world around me.
So from that one experience from trying to listen to music on the run, I thought I would never mix the two again.
Somehow I got the idea months ago that I was going to want to run with music in my last race. I created a playlist and my plan was to hold out until about mile 60 until I played it. I wanted something to pump me up while the going would get tough.
From the moment I got that idea, I listened to music on my long runs so I would be use to running with music before the race.
Oddly I loved it. It was a change of pace to crank the music as I grinded up switchbacks or let the music carry me when I was started to bog down.
But today and a few days ago, I was reminded of an element that made me fall in love with running in the first place.
Music and many other technological advancements are just comforts that distract from being present in the moment and even from being present with your feelings.
Running is my time of the day to disconnect from everything. To be free and to let my mind drift off into thin air. Even if it’s for a brief moment in a run, it feels infinitely blissful. It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in a while and a feeling I’ve missed and love.