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Staying Present in the Pain

Tips for Staying Present Even When It's Painful

This week I started reading a new book, much different than the past few summer reads I’ve enjoyed. This book is all about staying present and truly absorbing the moment, rather than striving to be perfect by over committing yourself and skimming through your day.

I chose this book on a whim, mostly because I have an obsession with buying new ones even before I’m finished with my current one ;). As I’ve started reading this book, I really feel that it is written for me! So many of the authors personal stories are very similar to my own struggles, and I love reading stories that I can connect with right off the bat.

As I’ve gotten further in the book, I am finding that I can connect with it not just on a personal level, but it is also so relevant in my running right now.

This book has got me thinking about staying present in our runs, and challenged me to wonder if we really get the same benefit when we are not all mentally there? I’ve found that I struggle most often with maintaining my presence on runs when they are challenging, because those are the times when my brain wanders of to complain or think of things I’d rather be doing.

While I was running my tempo run in the humidity this week, I really meditated on this idea and forced myself to focus on the moment at all times. That’s not to say it was easy – my brain wandered off numerous times thinking about how sweaty I was, how slowly it was going by, or how I couldn’t run a single second faster. But each time I acknowledged these thoughts, and redirected my focus to the moment I was in.

I focused on my steps, my breath, pumping my arms and maintaining my posture while I ran. I knew I was hurting and I really let myself feel how much of a struggle it was.

By the time I got home I felt a new sense of calm. Maybe it was because I ran everything else out and was secretly just tired, but I think it was because my mind finally felt more connected with my body.

It is so easy to go about the motions of our day without even thinking twice about what we’re actually doing. When running becomes a routine we just tie our shoes and head out the door, our mind a jumbled mess thinking about everything we have to do and all the events that have taken place that day.

Focusing on the moment throughout my run was more challenging than I expected – and I think that goes to show just how infrequently I actually do it. We lace up and complete this activity that is so great for our bodies and our souls, and yet we deprive ourselves from feeling that reward so often because we are wrapped up in the struggles of life. What should be the most beneficial part of our day becomes something else we have to do.

From here on out, I am challenging myself to not let each moment slip me by. I am challenging myself to allow running to change me each day; to embrace the hard, the fun, the sweat and the pain.

Here’s to running, and the peace of mind we all so desperately need.

Running Pain Free