How to be a soul runner

Originally published on The Running Bug

Tired of chasing PBs and obsessing over Strava stats but still not making any progress? Stick two fingers up at the competition and embrace the beauty of soul running…

How to be a soul runner
Runners love stats, gadgets and technical kit, and there’s no denying that technology has played a vital role in expanding the horizons of the running community. However, for even the most hardened clock watchers amongst us, every now and then it pays to switch off, stop worrying about time and pace and embrace the true spirit of running. Not sure where to start? Soul running might just point you in a whole new direction…

Get naked

When we say naked, we mean in a gadget sense, obviously. The first step to soul running is to switch off. Leave your GPS watch at home, wave goodbye to your heart rate monitor and turn off your damn phone. You CAN enjoy running without measuring every single step, so be brave, turn your back on all of your gadgets and leap into the void.

If you’re in training for a specific race, write your first soul run off as an easy jog and see where it takes you. Soul running is about running for the sheer joy of it, so stats don’t matter today. All the counts right now is living in the moment and learning to love the simplicity of running again.

Get outside

In theory you can soul run wherever the hell you like, but you’ll get the best out of the experience if you hit the trails. Simply being in the proximity of trees and nature has been proven to reduce stress levels, and it’s much easier to escape the trappings of technology if you’re surrounded by the beauty of nature, so hit your local woodland and prepare to get gloriously lost.

Run with friends

While it’s always fun to get thoroughly lost alone in the woods, soul running needn’t be a solo pursuit and running in good company can enrich your soul in more ways than one. Arrange to meet friends and run at chatting pace, simply enjoying each other’s company and the beauty of the world around you.

Run with a friend who’s usually a different pace to you and focus on matching each other’s stride, so you’re running in unison irrespective of your natural speed. Running with friends’ builds bonds that last a lifetime and the times you will share together eclipse medals, PBs, and speed.

Run without limits

If you’re used to plotting your routes or rely heavily on GPS tracking, now is the time to go off-grid and experiment with getting lost. You’ll be surprised what you discover and the new routes you might find if you simply resolve to go exploring.

Pack a bag, bring snacks and water just in case, and head off into the unknown. Soul running isn’t about finding your way, it’s about losing yourself.

Prayer and meditation

You can be a soul runner without going barefoot or becoming a vegan; soul running is a way of mind, not a total personality overhaul. Having said that, you will enjoy the process more if you embrace the concept of prayer and meditation. Before you stop reading this, we’re not trying to convert you!

Mindfulness meditation is a practise that involves being more present, in the moment, and focusing on the here and now. From praying, to daydreaming, to counting falling leaves, do whatever it takes to ground you in the present moment and focus entirely on the pure joy of running through the trees. Trust us, before long you won’t care how far or how fast you’ve run. You will be a soul runner.