Throwback Thursday: The Zen Run Redux


Some days, you just want to exhale. Today is one of those days for me. Enjoy this throwback post from February that describes one of my favorite workouts for the days when you just need to move but can’t quite figure out what to do, or how to get going. The quick answer: let your mind guide you to wherever it needs to go that day. This is literally a workout of champions: I’m almost positive that I first heard about it because it was described in an article I read a long time ago, featuring an elite runner whose college coach prescribed this workout once a week. Try it out for yourself, in whatever way works for you (a Zen bike, a Zen row, a Zen lift…) and let me know how it goes.

The Zen Run

[Originally published on February 18, 2014.]

I wish I could remember where I first heard about this idea. It was definitely from a runner, and I’m sure an elite runner – I think I read it in an interview with a runner in a running magazine, and I so wish that I could remember, so that I could give her credit. (I do remember it was a woman runner.) It’s the Zen Run.

Some days, it's all you can do to get out there and do a Zen Run.
Some days, it’s all you can do to get out there and do a Zen Run.

This riffs back to what I was talking about yesterday, about what to do when your inner two-year-old simply says, “I don’t WANNA!” It’s the day when even a BTN workout is not going to fit the bill. It’s the day when you simply do a Zen Run – or, to cast the net wide enough for all of the non-runners who read Every48, a Zen Workout.

The rules of the Zen Run/Workout are simple: Move. Just move. Do whatever you want to do: hop, skip, squat, play tag, climb a tree, do pushups along the brick wall in the park, or tricep dips on the bench, or whatever you want to do. For an hour (or so – I’m not sweatin’ it if you do 45 minutes). To the absolute happiest, coolest music in your iPod/smartphone/Walkman. That last point is very important. Don’t go listening to sad stuff. Or to an audiobook about something depressing, or something that requires a great deal of brainpower to process.

Utterly fascinating biography. Utterly impossible to run to the audiobook version of said biography.
Utterly fascinating biography. Utterly impossible to run to the audiobook version of said biography.

(I had this bright idea last fall to buy the audiobook of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs for thirty bucks, because I thought it would get me through my long runs. It did not. It’s too heavy-duty to keep me light on my feet during a three-hour run. Gotta just listen to that stuff when I have time to ponder it.)

The Zen Workout is a meditation. It’s a roll call. It’s a “here I am” gesture to the universe. It’s acknowledging that you might not set any world records today, but you showed up anyway. It’s meant to quiet your mind, to quiet the tiredness and the worry that probably led to your not wanting to move today at all. Remember, you can do anything. Rope climbing, indoor skydiving, ice skating, curling (everyone’s favorite sport during the Winter Olympics – it’s seriously fun. Give it a shot.). Just move. Tomorrow you will feel better. Trust me.

[And back to real time: November 6, 2014.]

Yesterday’s Every48 workout: I wrote about it yesterday but I’ll happily list it here today, too…a really nice 60-minute BIKE ride at the gym, early early early. Definitely set the tone for the day.

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