Seebo's Run

A running commentary on my training and whatever else emerges from that.

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Zen and Running

I made a hat trick since I last blogged: three runs in the last three days. Friday I ran with Jody and Erin out to Cobbs Creek and split early to run back home down Christian Street. This let me do olfactory carbo-loading as I took in the smells from Amoroso's Bakery on 55th St. and let me sing from Marah's ode to this street (albeit the South Philly stretch of it):

The sun rises on a statue of Mary
The old ladies file into commune
A fat guy in a blue Members Only
Knocks and disappears into a private backroom
The corner payphone is for bettin’ the numbers
The pizza joint is for peppers and eggs
The black boys all down in the schoolyard
Dance all crazy with the rubbery legs

So come on...

That was good for about fiveannahalf. Yesterday was another six or so running up to Cobbs Creek and back down Warrington and today marked the Cobbs Creek trifecta with a threeannahalfer back down Cedar Ave. Come on!

I've been going back to my brief dabbling with meditation a few decades back when I lived in Chicago for a half year and there was a Zen Buddhist temple down the street. Heading east these last few mornings upon endlessly straight streets I'd purge all thoughts from my head except for those directly related to running. Monitoring my body, scanning the street ahead and the sidestreets, and other immediate thoughts were allowed, all others got pushed out. Running in the present and meditating on how this made time almost stand still. Its as if I were trying to stretch time out to pass as slowly as possible. That's very much a feeling I remember from sitting meditation, and the object I set myself to was to embrace time crawling instead of the usual object of trying to make time pass as agreeably as possible.

This feeling proved good but elusive. I could hang onto it for a few blocks and then some distraction would come up and I'd be off among my usual thoughts again. Once I left that zen zone I found it very hard to return. It seems like I have one shot.

But as my running becomes pedestrian for the immediate future, I'm intrigued in pursuing this spiritual line a bit further. I thought, once I was safely ensconced back into my everyday mindset, that this is the basis for a book. In a very un-zenlike manner, I got off to daydreaming on how successful such a book can be. But alas, I googled "zen" and "meditation" and of course realized that I wouldn't be the first to tread on this ground. So I did take a little time reading what others have written. One web entry I liked described something similar to what I was trying to achieve, calling it "concentration", and contrasted it with "contemplation," which is what I usually do and also find very rewarding. He also described getting started with this concentration as something you do a little at a time and then extend it a bit more each time you do it.

Sounds like advice I give to people who are starting to run. So come on!


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