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Friday, May 18, 2012

Knowledge and Belief

Knowing something does not necessarily mean that you believe it.

It's sort of the opposite of faith. Faith is a belief in something you cannot prove or understand. Anyone with any sort of religious tendencies is familiar with this idea. Even though you cannot definitively prove the existence of your chosen deity, you trust that he/she/it is there watching over you. Faith is a wonderful thing, and it is important to have on the road during marathon training.

I discovered today, though, that knowing something doesn't make it any easier to believe in it. Sure, I trust that my marathon training is going to pay off two weeks from now. I believe that, even though I never ran more than 22 miles during training, I'll be able to take the full distance and succeed at my chosen speed.

But it's easy to sit here on the couch late at night and state all the things that I believe. It's harder to do that in the heat of the run, even if every bit of evidence I've ever seen supports my conclusion. For instance, I know that when the wind blows, it blows with a certain level of constancy in strength and direction. Today, the wind was blowing rather strongly in a northward direction, and the intelligent part of my brain knows that it was doing so for the entire 45 minutes that I was moving. Still, I could swear that, for roughly 13 minutes, the wind completely stopped, and that was during the 13 minutes that I was running northward.

I'm not kidding, I turned to the north, and it was like someone turned off a fan. I was looking forward to the change. I couldn't wait for that extra little boost that the wind would give me, counteracting the resistance heading south and harsh sideswiping moving easy and west. Finally, I thought, the wind would be working to my advantage. But it was gone. The sun got hotter, the course got rougher, and the wind all stopped.

Of course, it didn't really, but I couldn't feel a breeze, and as sweat poured down my face, a little wind was all I wanted. I knew the wind was there, but I couldn't feel it, which was all that really mattered. As far as I was concerned, it was gone. Until I turned to the west, and the wind returned. Of course. Jerk.

It didn't help that, by this time, I was pretty tired already, because again, I did not believe what I knew to be true. Every time I start running, my legs need a few miles to warm up. I've written about it several times. Still, when I began my workout today, I was convinced that I was running too slowly and that it had nothing to do with warming up. As a result, I pushed myself a little harder, just to make sure that I was giving the workout the effort it deserves. After a few miles, I checked my pace. Six minutes. Bad choice.

When it comes to racing, you have to have faith. Not only do you believe in the wisdom of the years, but you have to trust the experience of your miles. I've created every one of my training programs based on someone else's expertise, and I trust that they knew what they were doing. Somehow, I find it easier to believe the words of someone I've never met than I do to trust what I've found out on my own. I'm still learning, to be sure, but I must learn to believe in what I already know.

I've got to have faith.

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