I went for a run yesterday. This is the second time I have run since Sunday and when you don’t run for two weeks wow it feels good to get back into it. Of course, the last time I ran it was 26.2 miles of sustained pain. This was only 45 minutes but it might as well have been 26.2 miles because it felt really, really long.
It was a beautiful Midwest autumn day. The leaves have turned colors very late this year so the path was exploding in crimsons, golden yellows, and crispy browns. The contrast of the blue gray sky was spectacular and the wind, as always, was blowing.
I was heading back – after 45 minutes feelings tired but at the same time absolutely energized. And a man came running in my direction. He was a middle-aged man, fit, incredibly muscular thighs and as he got closer I realized he was talking.
Strange, because other than me, no one else was on the path. And he wasn’t close enough to talk to me. But as he got closer yet I realized he was talking on his cell phone.
Now, this man had to be running at least a 7:30 pace. I was slugging out something much slower (thank you Ironman recovery) but he was comfortably cruising along at a steady clip. I looked closely as we came towards me and realized he wasn’t out of breath. He was talking, and running, smooth as could be. Effortless.
I wasn’t sure what to think. Or if I had the right to judge him. Probably not. But you’re talking to someone that never runs with other people, or music – to me the run is the only way to really disconnect. More so than the bike because you have to pay attention for safety there, and with the swim you have to follow that black line. With the run, you just run and unwind your mind.
I took this as a sign that the apocalypse really is coming. Because it seems even during our times to unwind and disconnect we can’t help but stay connected. Like a leash we are tethered to. And what if we are taken off our leash – what would we do with the free range? Where would we go? More importantly, where would our minds go? I think sometimes that is why people fear being alone or by themselves. Why they are always on the cell phone. What if you just sat quietly in your own thoughts? What do you think you would find? And why does this make you so scared?
I’m not judging this man. He may have had important work to do. But I’m just saying, if you’re out there on the path take the opportunity to give yourself 30 minutes of free mind, let your thoughts wander, let your words ramble inside your head. We're so concerned with getting and staying connected that we forget about the importance of just getting away. At least once a day you must quiet the mind. You have to disconnect.
So turn off the phone, step away from the computer, sit quietly or swim or bike or run by yourself. Disconnect. This is what I missed most about running, this is what I can’t wait to get back into in the days ahead.