Mindful Running, Youthful Running [Director’s Cut]

Published Version of this blogpost on Jenkintown Running Company‘s The Running Board blog corrupted during a website migration process.


A month ago, I had to miss the usual Wednesday night Growlers Group Run from the store because I was in Chicago. Upon my return I learned that BD (Big Dave) had brought his 2 young’uns, Rowan (9) and Maren (7) who each ran some 3.5 miles (See “JRC Growlers Group Run Weds, 6:30 p.m. run, 5/15/2019” email and cross-posted FB message).

Bless my soul, they showed up again this past Wednesday and here are some of the thoughts that issued from their presence.

To start, Dharma Running’s Eric led us in a standing loving-kindness meditation for Global Running Day. (For the month of June, Dharma Running is changing its Mindful Monday to Watchful Wednesday and joining the Growlers.) We devoted a few minutes of compassionate thoughts about people who are easy to love consecutively to people who elicit neutral emotions. Normally this meta meditation would go the next step to transferring those thoughts to people who aren’t so easy to love thereby helping to cultivate compassion everywhere, but we were going easy for the night. (Presumably we’ll go to the next step in future runs lest we become merely quasi-compassionate people.

Big Dave, Big Rowan, Big Maren

Since BD had the kids and they’d already expressed a willingness and ability to hoof with GGR once before, they participated and we headed off to Alverthorpe Park. If you haven’t run with youngsters before, you need to. It was a joy to watch their carefree, relaxed exuberance as they galloped down the sidewalk in lead of the herd. Every so often they’d weave back and forth to skim the grass with their shoes. Occasionally one would spin around mid-stride. At one point, daughter Maren started doing butt kicks, a good warm-up exercise for working hamstrings (google it with “warmups” [no quotation marks])…except she was mid-run.

I did not feel carefree. I did not feel relaxed. I did not feel exuberant. The 2 of them had what appeared to be an overabundance of joyful energy. Eric and I followed them and marveled. I felt like I was working. It looked like they were playing—which they really were.

I wondered what it would look like for adult me to be able to reflect that attitude of playfulness. “We should just do that!”, Eric said with sincerity. I thought about what I knew of fartleks—speed play—in which you mix up both fast and slow running in order to strengthen your body in ways only one form of training can’t. Knowing that my balance isn’t what it should be, throwing in spins—slow speed to start—would help. Shuttling back and forth within the path would strengthen hip and groin muscles—also good things for a runner to do.

Then I thought about the meta meditation Eric led us in. And I imagined what it would look like to begin to transfer an attitude of youthful exuberance from youngsters like Rowan and Maren to not-so-young me.

Admittedly, I do zero meditation, so right now this is just a thought exercise, but one that has the legitimate potential to change both inlook and outlook (I made up that first one, but you get the picture). I’m not confident I’ll actually execute on those thoughts, but with Dharma Running Eric joining us for the month of June, we’ll just have to see.

-CtCloser (Calvinthe), “Negative split or positive splat”

Text and photos: Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

The contents of this post represent the opinions and convictions of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the author’s employer or any other entity referenced.