My son can tell you that I run everywhere, parking lots, office lobbies, alleys anywhere I can find a flat surface. I run by minutes, and know that I am a solid 11 minute mile.
Running is like eating or sleeping for me; it is part of who I am and what I do every day. No fancy gadgets, Nike technology or apps attachments, just me and the open road.
Eleven years ago, I started running while going through a divorce. A friend suggested that I run by minutes. Start with short distances and work my way up to 1 mile, and then 2 miles and so forth. Since, then I have run a full marathon, half-marathon, and numerous 5Ks races.
When I first started running, it was for stress reduction and to take a physical and mental break. Now, I run to think and clear out my mind of garbage collect from the past 24 hours. Running provides dedicated time to obtain a fresh perspective and can be a form of mental therapy.
I have talked with other runners who feel the same way. Even to this day, I do not run with an iPod or iPhone. I enjoy listening to the cicada or the sounds in our neighborhood.
I believe it is important more today than ever before to allow our brains time to unplug. Running provides us the opportunity to think, to mull over ideas or to work through difficult decisions without distractions. We need time to allow for epiphanies and new discoveries.
The definition of epiphany is “a sudden realization or intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence.”
Epiphanies occur naturally and cannot be forced, running frees the mind to wonder and consider options not possible when under stress or duress. Epiphanies can also occur in the shower when the mind is more relaxed.
My neighbor is a long-distance runner, and we discuss the mental transformation that occurs during our runs. We laugh that the first 3 – 5 miles is working through the stress of the day, and finally the mind relaxes by the fifth mile. There is a runners’ high, and I think best during my longer runs. Afterwards, I am more centered and have noticed running grounds my dyslexic brain.
Walking can produce similar results. My second favorite thinking time is walking along the beach in the early morning at sunrise or in the late evening.
Digital technology has its place and can be a very positive and beneficial tool. I believe giving our brain time to clean house and think through issues without a constant stream of electronic distractions is equally important.
I hold an undergraduate degree in Communications. I am fascinated by how digital technology is changing human communication and how the Internet and Social Media are rewiring our brains.
Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows – What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains is a must read for anyone in the Communications field or industry. Carr discusses how communication and literacy has evolved for thousands of years, and once again humanity is experiencing another significant transformation.
Carr writes, “It’s no exaggeration to say that the writing and reading of books enhanced and refined people’s experience of life and nature.” As society transitioned from oratory based society where information and knowledge was passed down from one generation to the next generation in the form of stories, books changed our thinking and allowed us to ponder what we had read. Books, articles and journals became part of our mind; our collective conscious just like Social Media does today.
From running to the collective conscious, may appear a change in subject but not really. Running provides a blank canvas for the mind to wander and see what is missing in the white space. The white space is where new ideas and innovation occur.
Creativity lives in places unseen by the hurried man.
Running provides the time and space for creativity to occur and gives the mind the freedom to think “what if.”
I cherish my runs, and think about writings of the late Dr. George Sheehan, the father of running, and his book Running & Being – The Total Experience.
Sheehan talked about the rhythm of running and life. He mulled over how in the past we had time to sit and listen to these rhythms to hear our internal epiphanies. Now with technology, we can hardly hear anything from our internal being.
I wonder how much we will lose or gain during our digital transformation. Books significantly changed humanity forever; will digital communication do the same?
If so, what epiphanies will we discover?