What I look at when I run . . .

The ground. That is the depressing finish to this sentence. I went on a long (for me) run this morning as we are actually having a beautiful spring here in the high desert. Normally spring is non-existent. We just go from snow to mud to broiling hot without a whole lot of nice days in between, but not this year. It’s lovely, and I’ve made an early escape from the treadmill to the outdoors.

Despite the beauty of the spring mountains, I don’t look at this. . .

Or this. . .  

I look at this. . . 

Why?

I’ve been thinking about that these past few weeks because I’m struck by the beauty of the mountains greening up when I do look up, right before I look down again.

I think its because I’m a list maker, a life chunker. I like to break everything down into manageable pieces.  Because I live near the mountains, when I run I climb a lot of hills. If I look down, I can only see about four feet in front of me, especially if I wear a hat, and anyone, including me, can run four feet. If I look down, I can break down an entire run, especially the climbs, into four foot chunks.  I even have a “hill” mantra that I chant as I climb, “climb up this side, coast down the other, climb up this side, coast down the other.” If I only can see the next four feet of the hill, before I know it, I’ve made it to the top.

I do look up on the down hill sections, but I also often run on trails, and if I look up too much, I might trip.  I need to see where I’m going to avoid stepping in a hole, so I find my eyes glued to the ground right in front of my feet again.

The problem with this approach, I’m discovering, is that I can miss the whole big picture, the beauty of the journey.  It’s one thing to have a goal and go for it, even if it is only four feet, but not at the expense of the whole view.  I tend to forget that.

The funny thing is that I really do like getting outside and exercising – I just need to look up occasionally and enjoy it. Perhaps I need a new mantra, something like, “pull your head up (or out!), enjoy the journey, pull your head up, enjoy the journey.”

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2 thoughts on “What I look at when I run . . .

  1. The funny thing is – when I initially read the title I thought you had written: What I Look Like When I Run. I was expecting to see a sweaty face or arms flailing. Then I read it again more carefully. I get what you are saying – sometimes you do just have to put your head down and power through. Other times, it helps to enjoy the scenery – enjoy the ride. I definitely need to do more of the latter! Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. That’s funny – hmm. What I look like when I run? Slow, maybe more of a “wog” (jog/walk) than a run (according to my speedy children), sweaty, head down, ipod on – not a pretty picture! That cracked me up. I didn’t realize how much I focus on just right in front of me until I started to note it over the past few weeks. I’ve been trying to lift my head up and notice my surroundings a bit more. It’s beautiful, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t.

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