Yes the correlation to autumn and running is strong. I think it goes down deep, primal deep.
For me no matter the season running is not really about heart rate or calories or PR’s or so many other such concerns. Honestly a lot of that is fairly trivial to me and was even when I was racing on the elite stages.
Running was and is more about sage, sky, and greeting the sun.
Though and perhaps because I am a naturalist this thought from Mills resonates.
“Your life is a gift from the Creator. Your gift back to the Creator is what you do with your life.”
-Billy Mills; Lakota, 1964 Olympic 10,000 meter champion
Recently while running among the mesa tops and canyons of my homeland I was reminded of a period in which a great deal of my running experience was shared with Turtle Island native companions. They were primarily from the tribes of the Southwest; Diné (Navajo), Hopi, and those of the Pueblo’s, Ute, yet also Lakota and others.
To breathe across the landscape with these runners was a different experience than with others. It was far more quiet, little talking and no heavy feet landing; we moved akin to breeze across the high desert scape of sage and sand; the awareness of sky, of desert cottontail, of raven or hawk in the sky was sharper and of more value than heart rate, gps, what a watch said, and certainly nothing as intrusive as a iPod.
One learns not only about a deeper way to run in such company but about being abundantly alive as well. For these men and women running was not a mere activity they might have been introduced to in school track. It was part of their cultures, their way of being, their spiritual practice. Many of them were introduced to running by their grandfathers as a proper way to be at one with the earth at their feet and the sky above. Running was survival. Running was the hallmark of a Brave. Running was not mere sport or exercise, but was and remains a sacrament of sorts.
I can tell you this; running with the ‘chi’ or flow is nothing new. It was known, taught, and expressed way before a book came out on it. Indeed the practice, techniques, and other ‘secrets’ have been with these peoples for thousands of years and remain so.
Take a look at the cover of the book INDIAN RUNNING by Peter Nabokov (see amazon.com). Those three young warriors were three of the very same that often took me with them across the sagebrush and pinyon-juniper.
There is no doubt that there exists within the native peoples of Turtle Island the talent to rival any endurance or long distance running tradition in the world, including the African nations. If we as a society enabled these outstanding talents as we do young kids yearning to be NFL Quarterbacks this would be witnessed. Yet I digress. For now, I encourage you on your next run (or hike) to leave behind the gadgets and instead move with open senses, quiet breath, soft feet, and the joy of the earth and sky around you…see if you can catch and thereby some deep part of you remember, just a little of what our native brothers and sisters have always known.
Photo.. a scene from my own running grounds…