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Löpskolan: Running without suffering

May 15, 2011

Photo: Fredrik Ö

I like watching people run, especially the ones that runs well, with light feet and a smooth stride. They are a minority though. The majority move sluggish, working their way forward like they were trying to prove the law of gravity. You can tell that they run, not because they want, but because they “should”, forcing their bodies to perform awkvard movements with crunched backs, stiff legs, jolting heads, forcing their feet forward with fighting faces.

When you look into the face of a natural runner you see ease, joyfulness… bliss. They have discovered the secret of “releasing themselves” into what lies ahead. It may sound simple but it’s not. First, you need to become aware that you don’t know how to run, meaning running with a good form. It’s not until you are open for the possibility of improving your running style and prepared to re-learn step-by-step that you will start listening.

I discovered this when I recently met a group of runners in the park and tried to explain a few key points about running posture

Photo: Fredrik Ö

and running stride mechanics. I asked them if they knew how to run. “Of course we know how to run”, said a confident and fairly fit woman. She also said that she never even liked running, but ran despite of this, to prove for herself she could pull-off the upcoming semi-marathon race.

No wonder her running technique suffered, I thought when we ran together afterwards. Running without enjoying it is like having sex without enjoying it, and that’s pure ugly. That’s killing your soul. That’s suffering. Don’t run and suffer! It gives such a bad image of running. Instead, run and enjoy the beauty of the movement, the beauty of freedom. Run and dance! Have fun! Running is something you create, not something you impose on yourself.

Nothing I’d explained for the group had had any impact. Nobody even asked me for advice. This made me realize that change can only come from a desire from within. And presence. Because without presence you won’t know what you are doing, and how, and why. You are not even interested in what you are doing.

But let’s say you are curious to learn to enjoy running. My first advise is: Think quality, not quantity! Focus not on distance or speed but on feeling! With time you will be able to run both farther and faster, but until you know how to enjoy running you might as well practise the movements without measuring. You are a musical instrument and need to learn to play it. Or is running just something that “happens”? Next time you run, don’t forget the fundamental idea: enjoy life as you live! Because if you’re not enjoying it – you’re probably doing something wrong.

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