Category Archives: Deepening Mind

These posts speak of mind effects of running, to mine at least. Engaging my mind and allowing it to be open to being affected by what it encounters is part of the enriching process.


Philosophy of foot-flipping

“I never started running to answer questions about the meaning of life. Yet while running, that drumming, body-roving on trails and tracks. through time and space …”

1-DSCN2425-001That’s how Chapter 8 of Mystical Miles starts.

That’s how the writing of the book started.

I wanted to make sense of what had happened after I started running to stop myself decaying into beer-drinking and pontificating about life, politics and more.

There was no doubt I had changed. I’d started with the idea of just running and the fantasy of running the ~89km Comrades Marathon, a kind of standard here in South Africa. I then ran 11 of those marathons, and later more plus a whole lot of runs unimaginable when I was starting out.

But writing  did more too. I had no idea when I started writing how the book would turn out; that thinking and writing about running would impact my running. It did that too.

As I understood more of what I liked about running, what it did for me, I could focus my running, go deeper and get still more out of running – without taking anything from anyone else.

And still I run and still I get more.

Goals and their limits

Goals are limited

Goals are always limited,  too often limiting. But if we let them, they can do more.

I understand that goals focus us and that’s a good thing.

Goals, running goals, life goals, are always come from what we see, know, understand. Too often they come from what we are taught or the demands and  expectations of institutions. Goals are always limited to what we can see, by what we know, by what we have been shown .

Here’s an exam1-DSCN1127ple of what I mean. When I started, my running goal was to get through the 86+ km Comrades Marathon before the cut-off time. It took my legs two years to get strong enough to run 10 km – that long partly because I thought running meant running at 4 min/km or less, mostly because I was unfit and overweight, with smoke-gunged lungs.

Less than a year later I lined up for the marathons and after just under another 10 hours,  Comrades Medal hung on my sweaty, unbelievably fulfilled chest – in way it still hangs there.

Setting a goal gave me that. But I had got a lot more.

I had got running,  got running engorged. Instead of times and records,  I ran what I could imagine: whether out for hours roaming paths and roads, sneaking in under 38 min for 10 km or getting through 100 miles.

I got running and all it brings:  sun, storms, under stars, rainbows and waterfalls, on mountain tracks and endless roads; I ran with people and alone, I loved running, talking about it and the glitter, colour and rhythms it gave to my life. I ran stress out of me and life into me. My mind cleared and I could see and understand things, life, in ways far different and literally unimaginable before I started running.

No training program, school curriculum or university course taught me that. No institution, international or local, world record holder talked about that.  They gave races, times, rules, uniforms, officials, training programs, personal bests, the science.

But I got so much more.

Sure it’s nice to achieve goals and they focus what we do. What’s better is if we are open to learning while we chase them. There’s always more to what we know and see and value.

And so ..

Later I did set one other running goal – to write a book about running and life. But I did it less for achieving a goal I could see and understand; more because I knew I would discover so much more by doing it.

So nicely, I had no idea what writing a book would allow me to see  but I knew it would be good. I got more of life and value and to run mystical miles.

Mind in Running

Mind in Running

Mind, as much as body and the paths on which my feet crunched kilometres, has always  been part of my running. That’s how I got the riches of running.

Right at the begi1-DSCN2026nning, my mind got me running when I made up to start running.

I got most of the “how” of running from books and the people I ran with. My mind played with the what, the what-else and the why of running. From that the rich part of running, grew and blossomed

In a sense my mind had to do this. It had to find or make up a reason for all the interval and fartlek sessions, time-trials, long slow runs, training, racing, the goals and standards.

In addition to the shorter, harder work, I got longer runs. Once I got through a few weeks for being out for a couple of hours, coming back with well-run grin, I found a passion. That was enough.

Yet there was more. Running far enough quietened, calmed, emptied and so nicely scrubbed out my mind. That was more than enough.

Still more came – run far enough opened my mind just right and the outside began pouring in – sunrises, stars, the tingle of the life in grasses, sunbirds, geraniums, frogs, trees, the nicely infinite deep of the sky.

Running enough got me enough and the magically  opened the way to get still more.

So running gave me a bit more of Life; became a way of getting even more of life. That was the second dimension of my running .

More on mind in running, on mental strength next time.