Revisiting the Zen of Running
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 2014
PHOTOS BY SARA NYLIN
We reached out to Rohé, asking to learn more about him through an interview. He quickly responded, wishing us the best and politely stating that he has nothing more to say about the words he had written over 40 years ago. It added to the mysterious lure of the grainy photos, calligraphy style font along the pages and this insightful zen-like runner from the 70’s. Reading it is a reminder of running as an individual journey, to be present and to enjoy the process.
Rohé encourages to steer away from judging ourselves based on the speed and distance run by others. The tone of his message is to slow down, find your own pace and enjoy it. It is easy to identify with this since most of us have some sort of competitive ego that keeps us from running our own pace at times. The truth is, we all push ourselves to different degrees and find enjoyment in a variety of ways. For a lot of us, the discomfort found in a tempo run makes us stronger and gives us a deep sense of satisfaction, while others can be content never pushing too hard. This is a much more inviting message than the corporate running world’s promotion of pain and suffering over the years. Perhaps this is why the majority of people who you talk with think of running as an unpleasant way to get fit. Those who run regularly know about those relaxed paced runs with a good buddy that contain only positive emotions and the furthest thing from the mind is pain and suffering. These are the moments that allow us to find peace and enjoy our surroundings while out on a run.
The Zen of Running was probably the first presentation of running that broke away from the mechanics and focused on its spiritual form. Running as meditation was a new idea in the 70's and it still resonates today. Rohé’s words invite us to run in its most simple and pure form, wear less, get in nature and discover ourselves. More than anything, Rohé makes us think, why do we run? Why do we push ourselves to run long distances? Is it to be fast or fit? To get outside? To grow mentally and physically stronger? It may be different for us all, but the ideas of self-discovery and living in the moment are reasons to run most of us would agree on.
That time we spend running on any given day is our time that we take hold of for ourselves. A chance to step away from work calls, being tuned in to a smartphone or computer and the pressures of our lives. We find a wilder place, become closer to our true selves and see a world that is dictated by nothing more than the nature around us and the rhythm of our steps. Our minds become a little clearer and we have some moments to appreciate where we are, our bodies and the freedom of moving along a trail.
I took it slowly
easily making my run longer
little by little getting stronger
it no longer seemed to be me
but rather he
and he had earned this strength
that feels like lightness
and turned his short run
into a long one
then turned his long run
into the rightness
of this dancing
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