Hi, I’m Eric Wilden, Road Runners Club of America certified coach and founder of Dharma Running! I thought you might like to know a little bit more about me, so here are the basics:
I have been studying and practicing Buddhist meditation for over 30 years, with teachers in both the Soto Zen and Kagyu Tibetan traditions. I have a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from Naropa University, where I studied Buddhism in depth and was certified as a mindfulness meditation instructor.
I have run 12 marathons, 12 half marathons, one 50k, one 50 miler, 6 Broad Street Runs (Philly's world famous 10-miler for those of you who aren't local), and a smattering of 5Ks and 10Ks. Here are my best times:
I am a "later-in-life" runner, having started when I was in my early 30's. I've been running for about 18 years now.
My style of coaching is collaborative - I want to engage you in creating a plan to achieve your running goals. Contact me today for more information and to get your journey started!
Here’s a little more that I wrote about my background and what’s inspired me:
Dharma Running is a work in progress of more than 30 years. I started reading books about Buddhism and meditation as a teenager, and had my first formal instruction in Zen in 1994. It wasn’t until after graduate school at Naropa University in Boulder that I got into running, but the timing was perfect as I’d spent the last three years studying Tibetan Buddhism and deepening my meditation practice. “Mindful running” came naturally to me, even if nobody was calling it that at the time.
Inspired by the book Running With the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham, the son of the Tibetan lama who founded Naropa and an accomplished runner, I started to more intentionally integrate mindfulness practice into my running in 2009, when I started a 366-day running streak and completed my first marathon. Using techniques from sitting meditation of following my breath, and from walking meditation of focusing on my foot strike, I started to understand more deeply how the simple act of bringing awareness back to the body again and again on a run can help improve form and pace and reduce injury. (That might seem obvious to long-time runners, but the understanding doesn’t come naturally for everyone.)
I should stop here for a minute and point out that nobody can be mindful all the time (well maybe the Buddha and the Dalai Lama, but I don’t believe either of them is much of a runner). Over my running “career”, I’ve had miles, marathons, and even months when I’ve left the meditation stuff behind. Everyone needs to pop in the earbuds and zone out to the Who, the Ramones, or the Beastie Boys (I am a child of the 70s and 80s) once in awhile. But becoming more mindful in daily life can help you know when it’s ok to tune out and when it’s important to tune back in to the body and mind.
Over the last ten years I’ve continued to experiment with combining meditation practice with my running, and have seen success in achieving my goals – qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon, hitting new PRs in 5ks, and branching out into ultras with a 50k and 50 mile race in 2018. The results I’ve had are what led me to get my coaching certification from the Road Runners Club of America and launch Dharma Running. I’m excited to do what I can to inspire others to run, to practice mindfulness, and to find and spread joy!