Meditation on Foot

Leave your FitBit and pump-up music at home, and try out mindful running. This fresh approach to fitness tunes you in to your mind as well as your body. The result is a whole new experience of fitness.

Photography by Plain Picture/Lancaster

The vernal equinox is still more than five weeks away, but on this mid-February morning there’s nevertheless a benign, early-spring-like coolness enveloping the woods where my run begins. I’ve pounded out thousands of miles on this lakeside footpath, and over those many years my haphazard approach has been as likely to leave me dreading my training as earn me age-group awards. But today I’m relying on some experts in running mindfully in hopes of making this routine more beneficial to both my mind and body. Unfortunately, there are some stumbles right out of the blocks.

I have been encouraged, for example, to ditch my GPS watch and heart-rate monitor as a first step toward focusing on the process of running rather than on the outcome—a strategy to help me stay both relaxed throughout and grounded in the present moment. Impossible, I decide: Every New Year’s Day I reset my goal of logging a thousand miles, and because a knee injury already has me behind schedule, I’m loath to forgo the spoils of today’s effort. So I compromise by hiding my devices beneath a sleeve and vow to keep them covered—a pointless scheme, it turns out, since my watch announces both…

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About the author

Alan Green

Alan Green is a veteran investigative reporter in Washington, D.C., whose books include Animal Underworld: Inside America's Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species. His most recent piece for Mindful in August 2017 was a firsthand account of taking part in an MSBR course.