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Mindful Thoughts for Runners
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Prelims pp1-5 Introduction pp6-91. There's More to Life than Running...but it's a Good Place to Start pp10-15 Mindful running can put you in touch with your mind and body, build self-confidence and enhance mental strength as you escape from the kind of negative thinking which can slow you down. Running and mindfulness are naturally complementary.2. The Anatomy of Running pp16-21 Start every run with a grounding meditation and notice how your body is feeling, the earth beneath your feet, and the weather on your skin. We are naturally designed as running machines: our physiology enables us to run; stride and cadence; efficiency; rhythm; and being light on your feet.3. The Running Bug pp22-27 The desire to get out and run becomes a strong instinct and the combined high when we run with other people is bonding. It can encourage a mutual mindfulnessbeing aware of another's physical and emotional needs as well as your own. A group rhythm when you collectively flow is addictive and you can push each other further and faster achieving greater goals.4. Run for Joy pp28-33 When did we forget how to run for fun and turn running into a burden of churning out mile after soulless mile? The mindful runner learns to live in the moment enjoying their surroundings and just running for sheer joy. By incorporating elements of creative play then we can embrace our physical capabilities and running can appeal to a wider audience.5. The Call of the Wild pp34-39 In the wide open outdoors we can feel the scale of the world and our place within it. Not only do we develop a sense of perspective but we perceive the landscape with a new focus. A mindful runner becomes aware of the silence between sounds, the shadows between the shapesthe negative space. Training for long runs allows you to get far off the beaten track and much further out in nature, in all landscapes. 6. The Ups and Downs of Running pp40-45 When running we need to go up hills as well as come down them and in life we need to learn to embrace the emotional ups and downs we will encounter. The joys of the downs provide sweet contrast with the ups, as in other parts of life. The more we fight against the hills and the hard times the harder they become; learn to ride out the hills and the good times will roll.7. The Classical Birth of Running pp46-51 Running was a route to survival for early man. It is inherent in every bone, muscle and sinew of our bodies. We no longer need to run to survive physically but maybe there is something more in our desire to runan innate need in the human condition. The Greeks were taught to acknowledge their weaknesses; mindless strength and aggression was not the way forwards. The Greeks and their running: Sparta and the birth of the marathon.8. The Elements of Running: Earth pp52-57 Aristotle's understanding of the elements and how they relate to running. When we run we are in contact with the earth and find ourselves grounded. Being in contact with the solid earth provides stability to our lives and invokes feelings of safety and comfort. This greater connectivity makes us more present in the moment, experiencing life to its fullest. We owe it to ourselves and our futures to tread lightly on the earth. 9. The Elements of Running: Wind pp58-63 The wind, the air and our breath, are one and the same. Breath after breath provides an important meditative focus as we run. One of the key elements of meditation is the focus and rhythm of the breath that provides a metronomic basis on which to base our mindfulness practiceas we run we breathe deeply in the air, feeling freedom and space. Sometimes we are battling against the wind, sometimes it carries us with it. We release our tension to the four winds which can seem to blow away our anxieties.10. The Elements of Running: Fire pp64-69 All physical energy on earth comes from the sunthat great ball of fire in the sky. We are physically strong and adaptable beings, and running reminds us of this physical innate. When combining running with mindfulness we are able to harness this resilience and realize that we can be emotionally resilient too. The greater personal awareness we find when we run mindfully allows us to celebrate our physical and spiritual strength.11. The Elements of Running: Water pp70-75 In the same way that mindfulness is a liberation from the constraints of our controlling minds (teaching us that we are not our thoughts) so running in adverse conditions liberates us from the constraints of always needing to be physically dry and warm and comfortable at all times. Running in the rain is exciting and leaves a buzz in your soul that raises the spirits for hours. Our bodies are a matrix of matter in waterwe drink water, sweat it out, we run in the rain. Rivers and lakes and coasts provide wonderful playground for runners to navigate. 12. Cos I'm Free pp76-81 Running is about the most simple of activities which provides great freedom in our lives. Just head out the door and run. Release your body and your mind will calm, answers will come and what seemed like insurmountable burdens when you set out will seem so much easier to bear. Running allows us the freedom to travel in our world and appreciate our surroundings with greater speed than walking but still fully immersed in our surroundings; when fully absorbed, we leave behind our day-to-day anxieties. Being out on the trail provides a sense of possibility, the freedom to explore, and the chance to have adventures.13. The Long and Winding Road pp82-87 We are constantly bombarded by visual and auditory inputs from screens and speakers in our lives. The long run provides that opportunity. Enjoy your time alone, listen to the sounds of nature, enjoy nature's colors and textures and talk to yourself. A long run leaves an intense sense of achievement; the long physical challenge results in a hunger that is a joy to sate, a thirst that will make clear water taste like nectar and ultimately to a cleansing and replenishing, heavy night's sleepa combination that cannot be beaten.14. Low Maintenance/Self Awareness pp88-93 Being aware of your breathing and bodily sensations is at the center of mindful running, it provides an inbuilt early warning system to alert you to problems so you are faster to notice and quicker to respond to your body's needs. Integrating mindful running into your running life can reduce the number of injuries you sustain. Developing rituals around preparation and winding down builds on the mindfully spiritual relationship between runners and their art.15. Dealing with Adversity pp94-99 The process of running does not offer peace and everlasting life, it offers a way to be more accepting of who you are, the things that have happened, and will befall you in the future. Sometimes you will need to stopthis may feel like a negative step, as if you are abandoning your self and failing in your running, abandoning your journey and your mental strength. But this could be the most important step. Not every run will go to plan or end the way you had wantedbe kind to yourself.16. All Creatures Great and Small pp100-105 When we run out and explore in nature we expand our horizons, taking in mountains, forests, farm land, coastlines and moreand the wildlife that live in these places all leave their impressions. Nature has its own wisdom helping us to discover hidden thoughts and feelings. Sometimes the sheer magnitude and enormity of its diversity can teach us a lesson in humility. Running in the shadow of great mountains or even in a torrential downpour can remind us of our place in the universe leading to humility and modesty. 17. Embrace the Pain pp106-111 Runners love pain. There is a certain visceral pleasure in the pain faced in runningit is a sign of being really and truly alive. See the pain as an opportunity to growthe experience of pain is inevitableit is out of your control, but how we choose to deal with it is not. The mental strength achieved in running gives us self-confidence to face other challenges beyond running. It can help you deal with life.18. Run Free pp112-117 Sometimes the industry of running takes over and we find that most of simple of activitiesgoing out for a runis preceded by togging up in layers of lycra, expensive running shoes, a GPS watch (which delays the run by 10 minutes as it struggles to find satellites). Sometimes it is time to just forget about all that and run free. Just lace up your shoes and go. Just run for the sake of runningfree running.19. Creative Running pp118-123 The mindful runner reaches a point where they are running with a rhythm and ease that allow the miles to fly by. This state of flow is reached when we release the mind enough to access its innate and spontaneous intelligence by using it without forcing it. Running can allow space into your life that can allow all sorts of opportunities in. Creativity can flow and flourish, you may also see life more clearly. If you let running clear your head and lift your mood, you can come up with new ideas and decisions that can profoundly affect your life and the life of those around you.20. Equality pp124-129 Running is one of the best levellers I know, and that is good for the soul and society. On the track and the trail we are all equal...or rather we are not, but it is not our status, money or standing in society that singles us out. Running groups are being used to help integrate refugees in many countries giving disenfranchised individuals greater self-esteem and confidence and helping them to feel integrated quicker.21. The Ageing Runner pp130-135 Mindful ageing: as we age it is important to maintain an awareness of our ageing bodies. As you get older your body starts to betray you, times start to slip and distances get shorter. This is a good time to take stock and think about why you are doing this. Change the focus and start to think about free running more oftenrun for the joy and immersion in nature. Run for friendships. 22. Just Keep Moving pp136-141 Running provides benefits for both body and mind. People who run often experience greater enjoyment in the rest of their lives. People who employ mindfulness in their running find they reach that state of flow more readily and the running feels smoother, more joyful and easy. It puts you in touch with your body and your mind. It is important to find time for ourselves, to create balance in our life. Keep moving, keep thinking. Engage with the world and make your life feel real. We have bodies that were made to be used so keep moving them.23. Pace Yourself pp142-147 A meditation on speed and longevity. Thinking about the long game and focusing on the mindful experience of running and not the result. On every run we learn somethingabout ourselves and about our place in the world-make this the focus of the run not the absolute distance or time so be kind to yourself and you will enjoy your running more and want to go out more often. 24. Go Naked - Barefoot Running pp148-153 Going barefoot allows you to connect more closely with the ground to feel the physical sensations of the surface beneath your feet. You develop a greater awareness of what's going on under your feet and a greater connection with your surroundingsthe impact of the weather and the season. This greater connectivity makes you more present in the moment, experiencing life to its fullest. 25. The Charitable Runner pp154-15 Good causes and good karma. Motivation and not just for yourself but the bigger picture. Connect to the wider world; camaraderie and a collective cause. Curiosityin finding new routes and navigation you employ a sense of adventure and cultivate curiosity into your life. Discover somewhere new to visit, new paths to travel and a fresh view to see. Curiosity is innate to mindful awareness.Acknowledgments pp160

About the Author

Tessa Wardley is a river-lover and mini-adventurer who has worked and played in waters worldwide from New Zealand to the Arctic Circle. She is a global environmental consultant and water manager for the UK's environment agency. Tessa is the author of The River Book (2012), The Woodland Book (2014), and The Countryside Book (2015), and practices mindfulness in her everyday life.

Reviews

"...Anyone interested in making exercise more intentional and meaningful will benefit from Wardley's compact collection of reflections." * Publishers Weekly *
"Designed to coach us to see running as a spiritually enriching activity that connects us to our breath, body and the natural world." * Healthy - Holland & Barrett magazine *
"In this beautifully illustrated book, author Tessa Wardley meditates on the holistic nature of running through 25 focused reflections offering meaningful insights that every runner will value and remember" * Your Healthy Living *
"Tessa Wardley takes the act of running beyond the realms of physical activity." * Flow magazine *
"An inspiring guide to cheer you on through the ups and downs of running." * Fit & Well *

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