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Listen up all you tree hugging, vegetable eating, skinny jean wearing hippies – meditating is a fraud!!  Yea I said it.  Keep sitting there in your Indian style poses, focusing on your breath, telling yourself that you’re going to a better spiritual place, secretly wishing you were at a Jamba Juice instead.  I’m onto you.  I recently tried this “meditation” thing and you know what happened?  A sore back.

Ok so I’m totally joking; everyone calm down.  I actually do believe in the benefits of meditation and I have tried many times.  I wasn’t lying about the sore back part but I understand that meditation can be difficult and it takes dedication to realize the rewards.  For anyone else out there that has tried meditation and has failed, this post is for you.  I found a great alternative to traditional meditation that has helped me achieve similar benefits to meditation.  Running.

For 2014 I set a goal to run 300 miles and I just recently completed it (makes me feel like this).  Through this process I learned how therapeutic, calming, and thought-provoking running can be.  I have had some of my best ideas this past year come to me mid-run.  I also have noticed how relaxed I feel post run and am better able to take on the rest of the day/week.  The benefits I receive during my runs are akin to the benefits of mediation.

If you have not experienced this type of results from running here are some tips I have learned that should help:

  1. Run longer and slower– Shift your focus from running as fast as you can until you tire to running at a comfortable pace for long distances. Increase your mileage slowly as you get more comfortable.  My typical runs are now between 5 and 8 miles.
  2. Turn off the music– One of the weird things I noticed during my first half marathon is how few people were listening to music during the run. What!?  How could they possibly run so many miles without Ja-Rule as motivation?  Since then I rarely listen to music during my runs.  If I do listen to music it is light piano or classical.  After a few miles of no blaring music you will begin to get lost in your thoughts and form a sort of zen.  It’s really cool stuff.
  3. Focus on your feet and breathing– If you want a moment to escape from all those pesky thoughts of yours try focusing on your feet’s contact with the ground and your breath in and out. This is similar to the foundation to meditation and works very well.
  4. Pick scenic routes– I don’t have a ton to work with where I live but my runs are typically through a local park. It’s nice to appreciate the scenery and outdoors instead of just running by a bunch of houses.

Let me know your experiences and have a great week everyone!

Eric