In The Zone
Running is where I find my peace. I lace up and head out, earbuds in, music on. As I find my breath and feel the ground beneath my feet, I can tune out the world around me and tune into the world within. Am I zoned out or totally tuned in?
My runs are my time to let my thoughts come, take a breath, and keep going: like a moving meditation. My mind is rarely quiet so meditating in the way you imagine (legs crossed, eyes closed, in a room with incense and candles) is a struggle for me, but every step I take echoes the beat of my heart and helps me focus inward.
Sometimes I focus on the lyrics and sing along, other times I’m noticing the changing light as I trod through the woods. I breathe in the fresh air of the countryside. I choose to run through and listen for the song of the bald eagles nesting in the trees above me. Occasionally, I come upon a herd of cows that I imagine are wondering what’s chasing me: I always say hi.
I can feel my calves loosen up around 4 kilometres and my glutes get tired around twenty. My body knows when I’ve run a mile and when I need to fuel, and when water isn’t cutting it and it’s time for a hit of Fruit Punch Powerade (the only acceptable flavour, by the way). I know when I can push it another five minutes and when to call it in.
I regard running as important to my mental health as my therapy sessions: my body and mind have been trapped in a trauma response for so long, it’s taking running 42.2 kilometres to learn my way out of it. Running longer distances has allowed my body to feel what my mind has overshadowed. Oftentimes, my thoughts are too loud for me to hear what my body has been trying to tell me in the midst of a stressful day at work, or while being stuck in traffic, or dealing with a family crisis.
If you see me running through town, and it looks like I’m in my own world it’s because I am. You say I’m zoned out, but I’ll say I’m zoned in.