After a spotty winter's season, I just started joining my husband about every other day for a short 2.5 to 4 mile run. He's run all winter because he has a gym available at work, and on top of that, he's just faster than I am. But bless his heart, he's run at my pace with me.
So on one of our runs this week, I felt my legs start to drag early on. I saw myself slow down, as measured by the passing mailboxes. I looked ahead at the long climb coming up, and I wanted to quit. My breaths became sharp and wheezy. Andrew put his hand between my shoulder blades and gave me a little turbo boost up half of the hill. Coming down the other side, partly out of exhaustion, I closed my eyes. I asked Andrew to warn me of any low-hanging branches or mailboxes, or, say, cars I should look out for. I was just going to coast down and return some oxygen to my rubbery legs.
It felt good, so I kept running with my eyes closed, or otherwise open so the only slit of pavement I could see was what was right in front of my feet.
I was surprised to find that a little bit later, I hardly noticed I'd been climbing another hill (granted, they're not that steep around here, but long). With my eyes closed, I'd maintained a faster pace, my breathing was much easier, and my legs didn't feel as weak. By tuning out all the discouraging cues around me--the hill coming up, the passing mailboxes--I felt much more zen and I finished better off than I started.
The only way I could describe it to Andrew is that by closing my eyes, my world is forced to shrink into the only things that matter--the mechanics of my legs and upper body and my breathing (in-two-steps-out-two-steps), and my mind hones in on the musicality of running.
I'm going to make running shades that block everything out except for the two feet of road right in front of you and market them as "Zen Running Glasses," or "Running Blinders," (like for horses?). How do you think they will sell?