Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mental Energy and Physical Energy

It wasn't a sure thing that I'd even run the 5K this morning... I was really going back and forth in my mind. This seems to be a common plague among runners, and really, type A individuals generally. Should I run the race (or do x)? Or should I do something else? It's hot (or cold), my legs are tired, I don't feel confident, it's late in the day (or too early), etc. etc. There are any number of permutations and excuses to challenge the exercise plan that run through (pardon the pun) one's mind on any given day.

I've long known I spend an exorbitant amount of mental and emotional energy on gaming out scenarios--call me a worry wart-- for any given situation, including the daily exercise plan. I also spend a lot of mental energy in my job. Writing complex, well-developed and supported arguments wipes a body out! And teaching is even worse! The cycle is vicious, however, because I run to calm the gerbils in my mind, and yet, when I'm not running, I'm worrying about when the next run will be, will it be comfortable, will my foot hurt, etc. etc.

There's a new movement towards zen/meditative running, or at least, incorporating yogic and meditative breathing into one's running form. I haven't (consciously) tried this, but I do know that I've thought about it! And maybe that's the first step...and I've even mentioned it to a newbie runner friend who was struggling to breathe on a recent run. After 20 years of running, maybe I'm still a newbie when it comes to calming the gerbils, or taming my "monkey mind," as these mental exhaustive energies are called in the Runner's World piece. It's certainly taken me years to figure out when to rest so as not to get injured, and to be grateful rather than annoyed that a 5K turned into a 2.3 mile tempo run.

That's what ended up happening this morning--I went to the 5K with a calm mind. I wasn't going to worry about time (it was hot! it was a trail course!), and I wasn't going to worry about pushing myself too hard. I was just going to run what felt good. So when I took a wrong turn and accidentally cut the last part of the course, I was actually grateful. I got in what I had wanted to do--a bit of a tempo run--and I didn't care that I had no time. I was almost zen about it (except that I had to then negotiate the race volunteers...we exchanged multiple was no one's fault!)

In any case, today's run confirmed what I know to be true, and perhaps could be a mantra: It's always a good day when you run.

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