During my competitive cross-country running days it wasn’t uncommon for me to run five miles at five o’clock in the morning and another nine miles at nine o’clock at night, five days a week. I was competitive. I wanted to win races. And I was smart enough to know that if I dedicated myself to extra training, while my opponents were lounging or socializing, I would often be one step ahead of them when we crossed the finish line.
When I first started these early-morning and late-night runs, the experience was pretty overwhelming. My body didn’t want to cooperate—it ached and cramped up. My mind resisted—it came up with a laundry list of excuses. And I found that the only way to consistently endure the extra training was to disassociate my mind from my body, putting my mind somewhere else while my body ran.
Over time, I became quite proficient at doing this. I got so good at it, in fact, that I actually looked forward to running. Because when I ran, my mind was clear, my body was in rhythm, and I was at peace with the world… especially when nobody else was around. In the midst of what appeared to be a strenuous workout, both my mind and body were in soothingly tranquil states of being… similar to that of a deep meditation.
I don’t compete in races anymore, but I still run a few miles almost every day. And even though I have a flexible work schedule now, I typically still run in the wee hours of the morning or fairly late at night. Since my friends and family know I have a flexible schedule, most of them say I’m “weird” for running at such odd hours. I’ve tried to explain to them why I do it, and how it soothes my mind and body. But they can’t relate. So, I’m still just a “weirdo” in their eyes.
Last night, after a long flight into San Diego to finalize some preparations for next month’s Think Better Live Better conference, I went running on the Pacific Beach boardwalk at 11:30 P.M. It was calm and quiet out—just the way I like it. I was about three miles into my run when a peculiar looking woman sitting on the boardwalk’s barrier wall shouted, “Hey, you!” and then waved me down. My first inclination was to just ignore her and continue running. But my curiosity got the best of me. So I stopped.
The woman was [Read more…]