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.