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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Outside the Mind

It's a common phenomenon.

You're sitting around the table at lunch, and someone mentions a movie with an actor from some other movie, and all four of you sit there staring at your salad fork like it's got the actor's name hidden between its fingers. In absolute determination to remember on your own, no one gets out their iPhone, and instead, everyone decides they'll figure it out later. Three hours pass, and in the middle of an important business meeting, you suddenly shout out, "Jude Law! Road to Perdition, that was it!" Everyone in your office turns and stares.

Very often, when you're trying to get your brain to work in a particular fashion, something will cause a blockage. You'll focus on wrong answers and misdirections, and for some reason, the neurons just won't fire in the desired way. It's only later, when your mind has completely wandered from the topic, that the brilliance shines through. Apparently, my legs work in the same way.

Last Saturday, I ran a six-mile pace run. Well, I did about 3 miles at pace, and then dragged myself through the remaining three. No matter how I tried, running at my desired speed just too far too much energy, and I couldn't get the feeling into my legs. It was frustrating, but then I managed to work my way through 13 the next day, so I didn't worry too much about it.

Tuesday, I battled with a resentful pup, and yesterday, it was a new distance for the season, so today was the first run that I didn't have to think about. This was particularly useful, considering that I had a lot of other things on my mind. I got out a little later than I normally like, so it was warmer than usual, but I wasn't focused on that, either. I even managed to run past the bird-attack tree without wondering if they were coming for me.

When I hit my turnaround, I did a quick check of my time and got confused. I tried to remember what my previous times for this distance had been, and was sure I had it wrong. I just headed back, and tried not to slow down. The sun was hitting pretty hard, but again, I let my mind wander off and kept pumping my legs, even speeding up a bit on the downhills. The return trip was not much slower than going out, and when I entered it into my spreadsheet, I got a lovely surprise. Today was my fastest road run (not designated to be a pace run) of the season. And I wasn't even breathing hard.

The fear of running is often more exhausting than the run itself. More and more of my friends have started running - whether inspired by me or just desiring an enjoyable athletic outlet - and it's been so great to see. If you can overcome the fear of the run, the actual steps get easier, and I'm thrilled that so many of my friends are figuring that out. Apparently, the less I think about the run, the better it's going to be, at least for shorter distances. I'm going to try and hit a relaxed (yet strong) pace on Saturday, but the good news is that it's not even supposed to be a pace run. Ideally, it'll turn out to be one anyway, but I certainly won't push it.

Not with 14 miles to do the next day.

Thursday's Run:
84 Degrees / Sunny
3.3 Miles
22 Minutes, 39 Seconds

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