Just about every year of my first and secondary education, I would have a lesson year about being more aware of all my senses to get a better experience of the world around me. Whether it was English, Creative Writing, Psychology, Child Development, Band, or Drama teachers, they all wanted me to experience the world through heightened senses: all five senses working together to solve mysteries, conquer evil, change the world, or perhaps just to make me a little less of an obnoxious and heartless child of the 90’s. I don’t know how in tune I am to my senses compared to the next person, but I do know when I get into my senses it definitely improves my running.
What am I really talking about here, getting into my senses? Well I am not talking about treadmill running, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Basically I hate treadmills because there is no outside stimulus. When you’re outside there is so much stimulus coming at your senses. Running connects me to this larger life experience because I get a glimpse of so much stuff going on outside of my little personal experience. This in turn makes running an even more personal experience because then I start carving out a little place for myself in this world. My senses do all this by opening me up to a ton of life going on around me.
So I thought I would go through the senses and talk about things mine have perceived:
Sight: I love to watch my shadow when I run. It reminds me of being little and looking at my shadow and then looking up at the sun and thinking how my shadow would be different all the time because the sun was always moving and I was moving and growing. Seeing my breath on those freezing days makes me feel epic. Sometimes watching the synchronicity of people’s ponytails can be quite entertaining.
Hearing: Sounds help me get into the rhythm of running more than anything else. Hearing my feet and my breathing almost as if they are working together and I transform into a little engine. Hearing birds above, and trying to spot them in the trees without tripping is always fun. Hearing just one or two lines of random conversation as you pass proves to be quite interesting.
Taste: I don’t really go around licking things, but sometimes I eat snow even though it is bad for you. Really the only other things I taste are gels. So my favorite gel flavors are from Gu, the jet blackberry, and Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane, and from Hammer the Montana Huckleberry.
Smell: I love running by houses that are doing laundry, or have a fireplace, or are cooking something delicious. I hate the smell of greasy or sweet food when I run. The other day I actually smelled some perfume or something that smelled like some aspect of my childhood that’s meaning was lost, but that got my mind reeling about how weird it is to be a grown up.
Touch: Sometimes on trails I run my hands through the tall grass. And I like to feel the sun on my back or the cold on my ears. We separate ourselves from weather so much it’s nice to make ourselves vulnerable to it.
So there it is. More likely than not this will not make sense to anyone else. Regardless, I think there is an attempt sometimes, when running, to shut ourselves down from experiences and distract ourselves from running and I say “no more.” Get into it; get sensual.