run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Book Review: Running the Spiritual Path by Roger Joslin

Running the Spiritual Path: A Runner's Guide to Breathing, Meditating, and Exploring the Prayerful Dimension of the Sport by Roger Joslin.

I have to tell you that I was so freaking excited to read this book. I went home the day I bought it and started reading it. And that was about... 3 months ago... I finished it this weekend and folks, it's not a big book.

You see, I am like a crazy ass multi-tasker. The phrase... "kill two birds with one stone," is like music to my ears. I am constantly looking for ways to maximize my time and I thought that this book was going to help me maximize my time while running (and make me feel less guilty about skipping church on sunday mornings for a run, instead).

There were some interesting bits on clearing your head before a run. The idea that you should go into your run very ritualistically... put on your running clothes the same way everyday... lace up your running shoes and concentrate on putting the shoes on... Joslin compared putting your running gear on like that of a priest/monk/(insert your own religious honcho here) puts on their robes, etc... And, okay... at the beginning of the book, I was like.. yeah, okay, I can do that... makes sense...

And he talked about clearing your head while on the run... to try and stay focused on your breath, if you start to think about work or how dumb boys are or something that you should acknowledge that thought, but then push it away...

Another thing that I liked from the book was he mentioned something about if you are having a hard time concentrating and clearing your head on a run to pretend that you are running TOWARDS something. If you're religious... then pretend you're running towards God, if you're spiritual, then pretend you're running towards Truth or Answers or whatever it is in your life that you are seeking on a spiritual level. I liked that sentiment and have used it quite a bit.

I also enjoyed the bit about the mantra. He suggests using a mantra to keep you focused. I really like this idea. I actually already have a mantra (aren't I rad?) that I use to calm myself and to help me fall asleep, but it's a little long and doesn't have a good rhythm for running. But, he didn't really give any good examples, so I've got to find my own... any suggestions? I tried out a couple this weekend... "school these bitches" and "you own this." But neither of those really did it for me, so I need to find a good one.

One thing I had a hard time getting behind is when he talked about pain. Joslin basically thinks that the rock in your shoe, or the twinge in your knee, should remind you of your Spirituality (or God) and that you should welcome that (in doses... he doesn't say you should run through injuries, etc... just minor aches and pains). He thinks that keeps you in the "spiritual zone." That doesn't really do it for me, that just makes me constantly think... "damn, my knee hurts. damn, I want to stop," but I mean... maybe it will work for you.

Basically... I kind of feel like this book was a bunch of fluff. A large portion of the book was dedicated to excerpts out of his journal and I felt like he was bragging about how in tune he is with his spirituality... it's like.. I get it... that's why you're writing a book.. now stop talking about yourself and teach me!!!!!!! I mean, that really frustrated me.

But, on the bright side, it did get me to think a lot more about my spirituality and how it can be connected positively to my running (and not just as a means to multi-task... I feel kind of self-obsessed and blasphemous for initially picking up this book for that reason, now).

I don't recommend the book. But, I do recommend the sentiment. Every once in awhile, clear your head on a run and let your mind be open and free.

If you're interested... here's a link to the book.


Big said...

there is nothing I enjoy more than running with my mind blank. the problem is that I can't make it happen consistently, and the moment I notice I'm there I think "ha, I'm doing it"...and it goes away just like that. drat.

how about "belief defeats doubt" or "I am strong, I am free" or “just catch the running hotdog”

Adam said...

I like to chant "All Day!" in my mind, as in "I can run all day long." It works really well until I get too pumped up and accidentally shout it out loud as I pass some very startled and confused pedestrians.