Zen Mind?


In the sports I’ve chosen to dabble in (endurance riding, bike riding and running), most people speak of reaching a zen moment, or a blank mind, or just a moment when everything quiets and it’s just them and the road, or the trail ahead. It’s usually that indefinite stretch of time between the warm up and when you can see the end, when life and outside thoughts fade away, and for many that’s why they do such sports, plenty of time to seek that space.

That’s not why I run, or why I ride endurance. Maybe I’ll hit that space when I reach 50+ miles or actual marathons, but at my beginner distances there’s never a moment when my brain shuts off and I’m just doing my thing, trudging along in a meditative state.

I’m always busy, whether I be on my own feet or borrowing four. When I run there’s futzing with headphones, checking my pacing, considering my route, rolling up my sleeves, pushing my glasses back on my sweaty face, or adjusting my waist pack or running pack. If I’m not adjusting things I’m worrying about how loud my footfalls are, working on my (unfortunate mouth) breathing or fighting general life thoughts and worries from crowding my run.

While asaddle, I’m either chatting with the folks I’m riding with or calculating my route, negotiating how often we’re gonna stop to eat (*cough Raymond cough*), taking pictures or making sure my posting is even and controlled, switching my rein hand and reminding myself to keep drinking water or grab a bite to eat. The only thing that’s different when I’m riding is I’m fully in the moment-outside worries can’t follow me as soon as I mount up.


I have to find other reasons to motivate myself to lace up or heft the bike out of the garage. It’s one thing to keep your eyes on the ultimate goal (ride as a middle weight, finish a 50 mile ride, general weight loss and fitness), but that’s not always enough umph. The activity itself doesn’t have to be super fun, but something about it has to be worth more than just the long term benefits.

So I signed up for a fun 5K this Sunday with the kid. I’m a goal driven gal, so there’s gotta be something concrete to reach. I’m good at setting the long term ones, not the short term check points. The kid’s my best cheerleader, so we’ll lace up, pack plenty of water, smear each other with sunscreen and hit the Oregon Trail. We’ll embrace endurance riding’s motto, ‘To Finish is To Win!”, no speed records or anything being set by us. If this one goes well I’ll look for some races later in the fall to run alone, when it’s slightly less stinky sweaty smoky out.

But who am I kidding? This view will always be my first love and main motivation!


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After years of borrowing horses, working to ride and catch riding, I finally have my own horse, a spicy chocolate mare...but also a demanding day job (who doesn't?), a nerdy husband, a soccer loving kid who needs to be parented (by me, duh), and the ultimate trail buddy, a chocolate Labradork!

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