Dr. Mike Spino

And District Vision

By Ryan Willms

A handful of friends had told me about District Vision, and to check it out, but for some reason it took me quite a while to do so. In the meantime Max and Tom at District Vision had been developing their running eyewear brand into much more than that, which I’m sure was always the plan. Besides the product the piece that really pulled me in was the Mindful Athlete Program (MAP) that they’ve put together and continued to evolve since it’s launch in 2016.

In the past six months especially I’d been exploring a deeper connection between distance running and my experience of mediation—specifically through Vipassanā—and the type of mental and emotional journey that the two practices share. You often hear people describe their running as meditative, and that’s quite literally true in many cases. The links are quantifiable, and District Vision is one of the few brands exploring this in a modern context.

Poems of a Long Distance Runner, Community Press 1973

One of the coolest parts of District Vision’s MAP research is the 6-part mediation sessions that they’ve published online, focusing on the “mental dimension of training.”


Taking a step back now, while District Vision is doing some interesting things now, they’re really picking up and carrying on the torch from Dr. Mike Spino. Formerly the director at the Esalen Sport Center, he’s written several articles about running and mindfulness, including authoring Poems of a Long Distance Runner and Beyond Jogging, The Innerspaces of running. His work exploring the connection between mindfulness and running in the 1970s was really incredible and well ahead of it’s time. It’s truly a shame that we’ve not continued to explore this crossroad more holistically in running and sport in a greater context in a larger scope. Often when it has been athletes kept it private and haven’t shared their experience, which ties into the greater issues of shame around mental issues and depression in our society. There has been an overall shift recently which is promising as it’s becoming more commonly talked about, explored and shared in professional sports.

Dr. Mike Spino in special District Vision t-shirt.


So it’s the perfect time to revisit the works of innovative thinkers like Dr. Mike Spino, the lineage of this work and the deep connections between mindfulness and sport, and not only to read about it, but to engage in the new conversations that people like Tom and Max are facilitating and promoting through District Vision.

This article was written by Ryan Willms and published on January 5, 2019