Running For Creativity

I’m a runner. Nothing extreme or competitive. No marathons. But I do about 7km a day, most days, and have done since I was at university.

Over the years I’ve found it’s the greatest source of creativity – many ideas have come to me while I’ve been out in the greenery. It’s also deeply meditative, cleaning out the detritus of daily life.

Which brings me to the Tendai Buddhist monks in the mountains of Japan. In a practice started 1200 years ago, they run the Kaihogyo, a seven year ultramarathon which they see as the path to enlightenment.

During that time, a monk must run:

*25 miles a day for 100 days for the first three years

  • 25 miles a day for 200 days for years four and five
  • 37 miles a day for 100 days in year six
  • 52 miles a day for 100 days, then 25 miles a day for 100 days in the final year

That takes them a distance greater than the earth’s circumference and they do it in sandals made from woven rope.

Just in case you were looking for a new fitness challenge.

Chasing Stories

Package arrives – my annual upgrade of running shoes. As you can see, chosen brand for the moment is Adidas.

I run about 7km a day and have done since I was in my teens. It’s not just for health – though the benefits are well-documented. This is where I chase down stories.

You’ve got to be in the right place to create – especially if your livelihood relies on a constant stream of new ideas. There’s something meditative about the steady beat of feet on the ground that pulls up ideas from the unconscious.

The reward chemicals endorphins released during exercise have also been shown to activate creativity (and work similar to morphine, without the obvious downside).

And also particularly good for staying sunny, say during a time of restricted horizons.