Our columnist comes out as a runner who cares about mindfulness. Even though he knows it’s a big risk. Because: Whoever does that is quickly labeled as a coward.

“What are you doing? how do you run Do you walk carefully? Do you knit too?”, an acquaintance joked two years ago when I – he asked me for advice on how to run with a mild cold – gave him the tip to above all run mindfully.

He’s the type of runner who just knows how to run. Who only gets something from running, who only feels masculine when, after training, he feels everywhere that he has done something. He celebrates himself for never having dropped out of a run or competition. Pull through is his medicine, at least for his head. You could secretly only draw the finish line for him in a marathon after twice the distance, but he would still finish the race.

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But he’s also the type of runner who’s had as many injuries as Chuck Norris. So everyone! His wife is like him. Together they rush from kilometer to kilometer and have been doing so for over ten years. Just writing this down and thinking about it is exhausting for me. That wouldn’t even be the worst. What really annoys me are people who, as a man of mindfulness, look at you with pity. According to the motto: But someone is really effeminate. Of course that’s unfashionable, it’s completely out of date, I’ll go even further: that’s pretty stupid.

We need a lot more mindfulness in all areas of life. And of course while running. It’s strange that as a man in 2023 you will still at least be smiled at if you treat your body carefully. And advises others to do exactly that when asked.

I have often said that running is my meditation. And that’s why I like to run every day. Mindful running has nothing to do with a normal run, nor does it necessarily look like it. It is not only slower, if you walk carefully, you may take a short break in between. You stop, breathe deeply until your pulse settles, do a few stretches, and then keep running. There may be breaks in walking, during which one simply breathes deeply and consciously. Small, faster steps are important because they take the pressure off the joints.

It doesn’t have to be that a mindful walk is long. Even five kilometers are enough. You always listen to the body, or to the bees and birds. You take the time to let your thoughts wander or shake off the day. Mindful running is there to gain new energy and you don’t push yourself to your maximum heart rate. It is a run that is solely there to strengthen our health. Mindful running isn’t just the next item on your daily to-do list!

To-do lists can make life easier, we all know that. But not if they stay in our heads and don’t seem to want to end. Then you never really get any rest, even in relaxation situations, and this “mental load” makes you ill in the long run. Running can be a remedy for this, more specifically mindful running. If you ran, you would be even more stressed. And that ultimately needs to be reduced. Feeling into the body, taking time to breathe, getting the thoughts out of your head, basically everyone needs that. Running is just one technique. A module. But also one that you have to allow.

Mike Kleiß has been doing sports since he was a child. “Those who exercise achieve more” is his motto in life. Running was always his favorite topic. For seven years he has been running between 15 and 20 kilometers almost every day, often in marathons and sometimes in ultra marathons. So far, our columnist has published two books on running. He is the founder and managing director of the communications agency GOODWILLRUN. Mike Kleiss lives with his family in Hamburg and Cologne. He writes about running here every Thursday.

It’s frightening for me that runners often look at you funny if you’re not running in a race with others. When you come out that you live mindfulness every day. If you cancel the running meeting because you know that there would only be bolts there again. In my case, you are certainly not a man or a “real runner”. On the contrary. Maybe we should slowly rethink our role models. And what stands for. I can only encourage everyone to do more for themselves. For body and soul. You don’t have to be ashamed of that. You should never have to apologize for that! That’s how it works.

Read all of Mike Kleiß’s columns here.