Proper running technique & active meditation

Two recent posts by Rich Roll’s website are excellent guides to a concept I love called “Active Meditation” and “How to Run.” Many runners I know talk about the mental journey they go on while running. So, the two concepts go hand-in-hand as you can get into a meditative state while being active, such as running. And it helps to get to this mental state if your running technique is correct. 

For folks unfamiliar with Rich Roll, he is the author of one of the most influential books I have read in my pursuit of health and wellness—“Finding Ultra.” I cannot remember how I found Rich’s book, but I remember the day. 

I was in the midst of training for my second Ironman and I had a long ride on the bike planned. A key part of my long bike days was finding an audiobook, or series of college lectures, to listen to while I peddled into oblivion. I find this is a way to get into a form of active “guided” meditation by educating my brain while simultaneously feeding my body with exercise.  

On that day, I decided to head south along the Minnesota River Valley. I rarely plan my long rides other than having more than a directional idea and road choice in mind. Heading south was not the usual route for me, but like most Minnesota rides, the rolling pastoral land of the river valley eased my mind as I traveled through this countryside. Clipping in and beginning to peddle, Rich began to tell me his story. 

After peddling over 120 miles that day, the time in the saddle afforded me the opportunity to listen to Rich’s entire story. By the time I got home, I was a different person—the result of my form of active meditation. Rich made me realize that what I thought was a healthy diet was not and that I (along with countless others) had fooled ourselves into thinking we ate healthy diets. From that day forward, I never thought about food and diet the same. 

SIDEBAR: Since my wife and daughters were in Europe traveling, I decided I would rearrange the kitchen in accordance with what I now understood a healthy diet to be. When my wife called, and I informed her of my project, I realized I had made an error. DO NOT TEAR APART AND REARRANGE YOUR KITCHEN WHEN YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER IS OUT OF TOWN. Oops! But note that a core part of a healthy diet is picking up a Vitamix (or similar machine) and maintaining a host of ingredients to feed your body with it. Anyone who has read “Finding Ultra” will appreciate the Vitamix move! Forever forward, I have focused on feeding my body the most wholesome, raw, natural ingredients I can find—with mixes courtesy of Vitamix.

I have been a fan of Rich Roll ever since that day and have enjoyed watching him build his career from an ultra-endurance athlete into a podcast media force. Rich produces a great podcast for health and wellness. Check it out as it might fit your biorhythm for brain food while on the bike, car, bus, walking or otherwise. 

I recently found two videos from Rich that I wanted to share on Active Meditation and Running Technique:

  1. Active Meditation: You hear a lot about the benefits of meditation. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out because being quiet, sitting still, and focusing on my breath has not been my jam. And maybe it’s not yours either. But don’t despair, the video I came across with Rich affirms a practice I have developed over the years which is active mediation. For those of us who are challenged by the requirement of sitting quietly to meditate, it is good to know there is another practice called active meditation. Active meditation calls for centering yourself, no matter the external circumstance. In fact, to an extent, my perspective is the more challenging an external environment, the better—can you get centered in any circumstance, can you quiet your mind, can you focus on purpose? The ability to center, to ground, to find the rhythm, is a critical element of achieving good mental health, clarity of purpose, and focus of effort. Rich follows the concept of active meditation with some tips on “normal” meditation—for those interested, watch here. This is my practice, and I hope it can be yours, too.
  • Proper Running Technique: Running is a great time and place to crawl inside your head, focus on breathing, and center yourself. Running with correct posture and technique is an important part of getting mentally centered. I was surprised to watch a video with Rich Roll learning to run correctly with Tony Riddle. What? Ultra-endurance Rich Roll has been running incorrectly? Maybe not incorrectly, but we can all improve our technique and clearly Tony has some excellent tips to improve your running technique. As I started my journey to rebuild an ultra-endurance running base, this video was a helpful reminder of what it means to run correctly. I found this video highly entertaining and insightful—Rich has been running wrong! Tony shows us how! 

By the way, I started following Tony Riddle (the naturalist) on Instagram after watching this video. Tony just finished a 30 day barefoot running extravaganza covering over 874 miles across the UK. 

If Tony can run 874 miles barefoot over 30 days, I can run the Snowman Run. More to come on that subject as I begin my journey to the “Happiest Place on Earth.” 

Good luck on the trails!

JS

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