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Thread: Zen Sports: Any runners out there?

  1. #1

    Zen Sports: Any runners out there?

    While running today, I couldn't help but notice some similarities between "just running" and "just sitting": hearing/following my breath, thinking of nothing but the ground in front of my feet, not stopping til the timer went off... Any other runners out there notice the same? Is this an example of taking our practice off the cushion and into everyday life?


    st/rj
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-18-2021 at 04:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Hello,

    Yes, I think so too.

    I did an unofficial half marathon by myself this year

    Gassho,
    Gareth

    Sat today, Lah

  3. #3
    Yes indeed. In case you don't know Jundo' teacher Gudō Wafu Nishijima was a serious runner.

    I firmly believe that running is an extension/manifestation of Zen practice (but maybe not if you are wearing head phones).

    One of my mantras when I run is: "Run in beauty". There is beauty in being and moving in the environment. There is beauty in everything you see - even if other people might see it as trash. There is beauty in the movement - as it happens. There is beauty in the act of running, there is beauty in breathing in and out of being alive. It is a moment by moment experience - at least to me.

    I will be running my fourth Boston Marathon on Oct. 11th. I am very lucky in that I made it into the in person/ in Boston race. One of the few things about getting older is the qualifying time is lower.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    Last edited by Shinshi; 09-06-2021 at 11:26 PM.
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Nengei's Avatar
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    I am a trail runner. My A race (I don't really race, but...) is Leadville, in Colorado. I haven't gone the past couple of years because of COVID, but I am hoping to be back next year. Yes to it being a part of my practice, but it is definitely not the same a zazen or kinhin. I think zazen helps my running, but I'm not sure the reverse is true.

    Gassho
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.
    Last edited by Nengei; 09-07-2021 at 12:21 AM.

  5. #5
    I used to be an avid runner averaging around 15+ miles per week, and I always saw it as an extension of practice. I never ran with headphones as I wanted to be fully present and aware of the world around me. Many of my friends that run thought I was crazy as they can't imagine running without music--they see it as too boring. I would counter-argue that there's nothing boring about it if one actually pays attention.

    However, I stopped running a little over a year ago for a number of reasons, and while I do miss it to some degree, I'm currently quite content with walking about 3 miles per day (also without headphones) along with my daily Taijiquan practice.

    Shinshi, that's awesome that you're running Boston this year! Any other year, I'd happily be part of your local cheering team, but I will be in NYC for that long weekend. Let me know if you plan to stay in the area for a few days afterwards. It would be great to meet up with a fellow Treeleafer, even if just for a quick coffee and a "hello".

    Gassho,
    Seikan

    -stlah-
    聖簡 Seikan (Sacred Simplicity)

  6. #6
    I think this can be true for many activities but yes I have experienced similarities between “just sitting” and “just running”. For the record I’ve also experienced this “just guitaring”.


    Tairin
    Sat today as lah

  7. #7
    I agree! for me running is also very much like zazen. I run around 60 miles a week - training for the Philadelphia marathon in Nov. The pain of running fast on a hard run can sometimes make me feel disconnected, contracted, lost in my own constructed world, and when I realize this and breathe and feel my body moving the pain often goes away and I get glimpses of feeling really alive and present. its very much like how I have to bring my mind back to the here and now after being lost in thought in my zazen practice.

    Gassho
    Rob
    Sat today

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Seikan View Post
    I used to be an avid runner averaging around 15+ miles per week, and I always saw it as an extension of practice. I never ran with headphones as I wanted to be fully present and aware of the world around me. Many of my friends that run thought I was crazy as they can't imagine running without music--they see it as too boring. I would counter-argue that there's nothing boring about it if one actually pays attention.

    However, I stopped running a little over a year ago for a number of reasons, and while I do miss it to some degree, I'm currently quite content with walking about 3 miles per day (also without headphones) along with my daily Taijiquan practice.

    Shinshi, that's awesome that you're running Boston this year! Any other year, I'd happily be part of your local cheering team, but I will be in NYC for that long weekend. Let me know if you plan to stay in the area for a few days afterwards. It would be great to meet up with a fellow Treeleafer, even if just for a quick coffee and a "hello".

    Gassho,
    Seikan

    -stlah-
    Hi Seikan,

    Sadly it is going to be a quick get there and get home for me. Getting there Saturday PM and leaving Tuesday AM. It would have been great to meet up. Trying to keep COVID exposure to a miniumum.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post
    I think this can be true for many activities but yes I have experienced similarities between “just sitting” and “just running”. For the record I’ve also experienced this “just guitaring”.


    Tairin
    Sat today as lah
    Yes, completely agree about the "just guitaring". And just basketballing. So many experiences can be in the moment when all else drops away.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  10. #10
    Another runner here.
    And yes, I too think of running as a kind of very fast Kinhin at times... Especially during the longruns.
    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidō Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  11. #11
    I don't really think of myself as a runner, it's just something I do sometimes. I don't run that often, but when I do I tend to go for a long run. I find that a long enough run makes me more compassionate and more grateful. I suspect that it informs my Buddhist practice and my practice informs my running. Both make me a more decent human being.

    Gassho,
    Sōka
    sat

  12. #12
    I like cycling a lot as well as running, and when doing them in the outdoors I find headphones to detract far more than they add. I haven't been able to do either for more than basic cardio in a while though, since I only have a stationary bike (just not the same). Currently, I'm adapting my feet to minimalist running shoes so am only doing very short, low-impact runs. I feel much more in tune with my running with the lack of padding and having to use different form, though. I look forward to increasing my run times over the coming year.
    Disclaimer: Do your research if you plan to switch to minimalist running! It's very, very easy to injure your feet at first, and it's tempting to just try and do your normal run straight out of the gate.

    Tim
    ST
    Last edited by tclark7; 09-07-2021 at 04:17 PM.

  13. #13
    Member Seishin's Avatar
    Join Date
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    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    RJ

    Another runner here and kept going for 4 decades. With covid and my wife's health very hit and miss over the last 2 years but yesterday first run on treadmill of 20 minutes after a gap of 64 days, which is huge for me. Also not run outside for 2 1/2 years but the treadmill is a good substitute.

    I see a lot of similarities between running and sitting. Somewhere in the mist of time a similar post was made and I made reference to a discovery I made after starting a more committed practice 5 years ago. Studying the natural breathing of zazen - not long, not short, not forced as Dogen makes reference to - I started adopting "Shikantaza Style Breathing" when I ran. Starting in the early 80s and the height of the running boom (stopped smoking when my daughter started walking and started then) I was scholar of the 2 steps/strides in 2 steps/strides out. It was in all the coaching books and it became a helpful mechanism when things got tough and was quickly adapted to my running mantra "Keep On Running Tobe" 2 in 2 out. That kept me good for 30 + years.

    Adopting Shikantaza breathing when running was a revelation. Be it outdoors, on the trail or treadmill. Just breathe. Breathe as your body wants or needs. No regimen. I found my endurance improved, as natural zazen breathing actually reduced effort - the effort expended on the focusing and actuality of breathing.
    I've been breathing this way now when running for around 4 years and do not think I would ever return to the championed method of 2 in 2 out.

    Just Sit, Just Breathe, Just Run, Just Be.

    Sat...............will run soon.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  14. #14
    Another runner here .

    I got in to running around the same time I started meditating and pretty much immediately noticed similarities and find them mutually beneficial. At times when running feels tough, focusing on "just running" helps me accept any discomfort and focus on the metres I'm running rather than the miles ahead. I was also much more accepting of not being able to run earlier this year after I injured my back than I might have been had I not been sitting zazen.

    Similarly, running long distances has undoubtedly given me a mental resilience I don't think I had before, and I feel like that makes sitting easier.

    Currently training for a half marathon which will be my first official race since injuring my back. Probably won't get a PB, but that's fine, I'm enjoying each training run as it happens.

    Sat today/LAH

  15. #15
    Great reflections everyone

    35 years on I'm an old dog! Wonderful to see my son (10) leave me for dust with his cheeky grin

    Gassho, Yokai sat/lah

  16. #16
    Congrats Gareth and those getting back to running, it takes some will power!... And best of luck to those of you training for races!

    Admittedly, this was my first time running "unplugged" in years... will be interested in seeing if I can incorporate more of those runs into my routine... a bit scary indeed to not have music or headphones, but I think it might be more conducive to keeping me focused on the now and for connecting to my breath, both on the pavement and on the cushion.

    So many insightful comments, thank you all for the food for thought...


    st/rj
    Last edited by rj; 09-08-2021 at 12:52 AM.

  17. #17
    I don't enjoy running, personally, but I do love to walk - especially in the woods. My oldest daughter likes to run though and started cross country this year on her school's team.

    Gassho
    Kendrick
    Sat/Lah

  18. #18
    "Just exercising" too.
    For many years I've found that teaching exercise in such a way that encourages people to be mindful of their breath, posture, joint alignment, proper tension etc... not only benefits them more in regards to progress but a frequent comment is "wow time flew by, I always thought exercise was boring, a chore."
    Gassho,
    Chris

  19. #19
    I run a lot as well, but, just as zazen, sometimes find it difficult to not get absorbed in thoughts. It's a great practice.

    Gassho,

    Uggy,
    Sat today

  20. #20
    I run 5K 2-3 times a week. Lately I've been focusing on proper form and cadence and, well, I'll just say it's a very forceful way of practiting non-thinking

    However, the leg pain, being out of breath and "This is the worst, why don't I just stop, I'm going to die" are much more bearable (dare I say they sometimes don't even bother me?) when I take away the "This is the worst, why don't I just stop, I'm going to die" and only leg pain and being out of breath remain.


    Alex
    Sat today/LAH

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by _Jd_ View Post
    Hi Alex

    I too dealt with leg pain (shin splints), when I first started running. With the help of a podiatrist the cause was found to be an over pronation with my feet. Most leg problems in running start with feet issues (shoes not fitted properly is a big one). Here are the things that I did which instantly fixed my leg pains and I've gone on to run 2 ultra marathons and trained/ing for a 100 miler.. 1) proper running shoe fitting at a real running shoe store (not the mall or Foot Locker), 2) he prescribed arch supports which were needed in my case (I initially used over the counter arch supports to prove their effectiveness, their lifespan is somewhat limited in miles compared to the permanent, prescription arch supports), 3) proper leg warm up before running and daily leg exercises, 4) calf compression sleeves (The podiatrist was on the fence about their effectiveness, but in my years of use, I would never run without them again, they just feel so good) and 5) backing down my miles until the pain was resolved, then building back up miles pain free.

    Sorry for going long, and I know you weren't asking for advice but I couldn't help to offer it as I wished someone had given to me to avoid much pain and aggravation! It took a lot of reading and research of elite runners and a visit to a podiatrist to fix mine.

    Gassho
    Jd

    Sat today
    Hello Jd,
    don't worry, I'm not suffering from shin splints! With leg pain I meant regular muscle pain, after several injuries I've learnt the hard way not to underestimate pain.
    I am really thankful about your tips, I will try to implement them as best as I can - fitted shoes won't be affordable for a few years but I'll implement your other advice.

    Alex
    sat today/LAH

  22. #22
    Well, I'm a walker AND a runner! I lost 35 pounds over the course of a year & a half (2019 through 2020) by cutting out snacking and walking every day. A couple of months ago I decided I wanted to start working in some running with my walking. Currently doing 1:1 intervals over the course of a 5k, twice a week (plus walking another three days/week). I'll gradually lengthen the running periods, and hope to finish a late October 5k in the front of the back of the pack

    Certainly my daily zazen has helped me keep up my exercise schedule - there have been plenty of times I really didn't want to get out there, but letting go of that inner whiney "I don't wanna!" got me on the road/treadmill, just like it got me on the cushion when I really wasn't feelin' it.

    Gassho,
    Meredith
    ST

  23. #23
    Sounds like you are doing great Meredith! Congratulations. I started with the Couch to 5k program. You never know where it might lead.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  24. #24
    That's great Meredith! If there is a local Parkrun in your area I would highly recommend that as a fun and free 5km to run. There is a great community vibe at the local Parkruns where I live, with all levels of runners participating.

    Gassho, Dan
    ST/LAH

  25. #25
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Congrats Meredith that is an excellent way to get started on the running front. Keep building it up slow bit by bit and you'll be fine.

    Sat


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by DanM View Post
    That's great Meredith! If there is a local Parkrun in your area I would highly recommend that as a fun and free 5km to run. There is a great community vibe at the local Parkruns where I live, with all levels of runners participating.

    Gassho, Dan
    ST/LAH
    Hi Dan,

    It looks like Meredith is in Kentucky. Sadly the Parkrun concept hasn't really made its way into the US.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  27. #27
    Hi Shinshi,

    Oh sorry! Before I posted that I did a quick google search to check Parkrun was in the US but looking in to it more now I see they only have 48 locations, which is a lot less than other places it is active (UK has 700+). Hopefully it becomes more widespread there because it is pretty great.

    Gassho, Dan
    ST/LAH

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by DanM View Post
    Hi Shinshi,

    Oh sorry! Before I posted that I did a quick google search to check Parkrun was in the US but looking in to it more now I see they only have 48 locations, which is a lot less than other places it is active (UK has 700+). Hopefully it becomes more widespread there because it is pretty great.

    Gassho, Dan
    ST/LAH
    Hi Dan,

    Yea it would be great. Not really sure why it hasn't caught on.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  29. #29
    Meredith, that's awesome! Couch to 5k is such a great tool! That is how I started as well and it was so helpful! Maybe if you post when your race is as we get closer, I'll run at the same date and time so as to do it "with" you and cheer you on!

    st/rj

  30. #30
    I am wondering if I should move this thread into the "Arts & Music" Area ("Arts, Music & Sports?"), so that it can be a kept around?

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I am wondering if I should move this thread into the "Arts & Music" Area ("Arts, Music & Sports?"), so that it can be a kept around?

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    From me, but you know I am kind of into running.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  32. #32
    Thanks for all the encouragement, I really appreciate it! I'll post about the 5k as I get a little closer. I have dreams of completing a sprint triathlon next year, but...idk.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Nengei View Post
    I am a trail runner. My A race (I don't really race, but...) is Leadville, in Colorado. I haven't gone the past couple of years because of COVID, but I am hoping to be back next year. Yes to it being a part of my practice, but it is definitely not the same a zazen or kinhin. I think zazen helps my running, but I'm not sure the reverse is true.

    Gassho
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.
    Sorry I missed this before. Leadville is a serious race. Deep bows.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I am wondering if I should move this thread into the "Arts & Music" Area ("Arts, Music & Sports?"), so that it can be a kept around?

    Gassho, J

    STLah


    st/rj

  35. #35
    I've only just seen this thread - I'm also a long time runner although time constraints and fallen arches have limited my running to 5ks a few times a week. And I like a Park Run too, I'm lucky that there's one 5 mins from me.

    As a side note at the beginning of lockdown I was reading Adharand Finn's book 'The Way of the Runner' about running in Japan but got fairly frustrated about how he thought every Buddhist monk he met was a Zen monk

    Gassho

    Heiso

    StLah

  36. #36
    m.c.
    Guest
    any folks here run with their mouths shut/breath through the nose only?

    m.c.
    to sit is good
    to have sat is postable

  37. #37
    Member Seishin's Avatar
    Join Date
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    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    Quote Originally Posted by m.c. View Post
    any folks here run with their mouths shut/breath through the nose only?

    m.c.
    to sit is good
    to have sat is postable
    Many decades ago when I first started but soon realised I was expending additional energy breathing like that, opposed to breathing open mouth. When I started sitting daily zazen back in 2016, I started to adopt what I called "shikantaza" breathing, albeit with an open mouth, just letting the breath go where it needed or wanted to go. Previous to that I was a regimented 2 step inhale 2 step exhale runner but just letting the breath doing its own thing was quite liberating. Not run much this year due to my wife's health issues and aging dog, so I expect when I hit the treadmill (handy in the zendo this time of year) all that will go out the window and I'll be back to panting and wheezing, while my body remembers what it is supposed to be doing.

    Long post deep bows of apology.

    Sat


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by m.c. View Post
    any folks here run with their mouths shut/breath through the nose only?

    m.c.
    to sit is good
    to have sat is postable
    If I'm doing zone 2 aerobic base training (which I reckon makes up about 80% of my running) then I sometimes use nose breathing as a form of regulation - if I can't breath through my nose, I know I'm running too fast.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah

  39. #39
    m.c.
    Guest
    For ref if anyone becomes interested in the performance benefits of nasal breathing in running -early days in the research but looking good as a deliberate practice -
    https://oxygenadvantage.com/nasal-breathing-running/
    it's a skill and a practice and can be profound in terms of performance.
    ultra runners like Scott Jurek - nasal breathers.
    And great in zazen - nasal breathing is better for cognitive performance https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34072444/
    also better for memory (has to do with nitric oxide it seems)


    m.c.
    it's good to sit/sat

  40. #40
    Hi everyone

    Generally run around 3-4 times a week/40km a week, depending on the season and other stuff happening in life. Prefer getting out in the hills but don't do that as often as I'd like. Even though I want to carry on tracking my runs, so I know how far and fast I'm running, I need to run without an ego a bit more (not comparing running to others or caring how fast I go as much).

    Gassho
    Ross
    STLAH

  41. #41
    Ran a great 5k this morning after coming off of an ankle injury that kept me from running for 2 months or so. Before that, I had just watched Jundo’s beginner video on Zazen posture. During my run, I came to think a lot about how Zazen and running can be so similar (coming into the here and now, focus on maintaining the right posture/form for you, yet not judging your posture too much, embracing the run as it is, etc.).

    Gassho,
    Mason
    Sat.

  42. #42
    Last week I ran 300m sprints after 1-2 months without running (thinking I would be ok due to other things I do) and came away with a sore achilles.

    Today I am back to running, but this time just to jog extra slowly and for a few repeats of a short distance. So there is nothing to attain, just extra-slow jogging while enjoying the day

    Gassho,
    Gareth

    Sat today, Lah

  43. #43
    Mixing it up with running helps a lot. There's time for slow runs, long runs, sprints or just whatever feels right in the moment

    Gassho
    Ross
    stlah

  44. #44
    I broke down a little on my last run, it was good practice. I was about 85 km into my run and it is unusually hot for the UK at the moment, and I struggled over the last 15 km. It was probably the first time in a long time where I wasn't so good at observing the games the mind plays and the stories it builds during these sorts of runs. Hopefully my ability to just run will be better next week. More zazen needed methinks.

    For what it's worth, with my personal training clients, I always make sure they're regularly running 3-5 km before giving them sprints, just to condition their legs to the movements and help avoid injury and soreness. Even if they do other sports, I've found if people aren't used to running or haven't run for a while, sprints can be really hard on the body.

    Gassho,
    Sōka
    sat

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