Centering and Renewal

Running can be as good for the spirit as for the body. It’s a wonderful truth that comes from the interplay between body and spirit, and breaking through the false mind/body split.

I’ve had a rough week, and this morning I needed to get centered again, to find a sense of renewal. So I decided to go for a longer run than usual. Today is Saturday, when I normally do a short easy run, in preparation for my long LSD (Long Slow Distance) Sunday run. But this morning I needed more than just a short run. The weather was a further incentive – it was 6C and sunny, which is not bad at all for mid-November here in southern Ontario.

So I did 16K at an LSD pace – and found the centering and the renewal that I needed.

It happened partly because of plain old biochemistry. Running longer distances at an LSD pace doesn’t build up lactic acid in the legs, so you can keep on going without hurting. And running at that kind of pace for an extended period of time brings on the good body drugs, such as endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins, according to an entry in Wikipedia, “are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds… [that] resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being.” They’re the high behind the famous “runner’s high.” Serotonin (again according to Wikipedia), “via serotonergic signaling plays an important role in the modulation of human mood, anger and aggression.” That means it helps you find a balance between the fight and flight responses; the result is a balance between the sympathetic and para-sympathetic states, a balance that allows the human body to heal and recharge.

As if that weren’t enough, running in Vibram Fivefingers KSOs – a truly minimalist shoe – enhances the neurogical feedback I get through my feet. I feel the ground I’m running on. My feet move naturally and easily. My posture is good, my form is optimal, and my movements are smooth. (There’s an interesting looking book about neurological feedback – which I confess I haven’t read yet – here.)

On much simpler level, this morning the sun was shining, it was warm, and there wasn’t a lot of traffic to maneuver past and through – all ingredients for a good run. It’s basic, really – good weather plus good body drugs plus my trusty KSOs equals centering and renewal.

Sometimes I wish I could run forever.

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