Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thinking About Thinking

Oh I am a delinquent blogger- so sorry to those of you that have been waiting anxiously for my next post…well here it is!

Lately, I have been fielding many a question as to how to keep oneself entertained on those nasty long runs that one must do in order to accomplish the feat of completing a marathon. It really got me thinking- besides my ipod, how DO I entertain myself on a leisurely 3 hour jog? In order to understand how on earth I can resist boredom for this long, I underwent a little experiment on my last long run. More specifically, I tried to focus on what exactly I was thinking about during this time.

The answer surprised me a bit. Truth be told I am one of those people whose mind does not ever stop working. No matter how much I try or am aware of the problem, I am constantly thinking about “things” like work, running, friends, stress, summer, life, school, students, family…the list could go on and on. Even in an environment like yoga, where the mind is supposed to be free and clear and focused on the breath in a meditative like state, I just can’t do it.

Here’s the strange part- I CAN do it while I’m running. I guess for me, running IS meditation. It’s the one time that my mind is totally free and clear of all thought and I am focused on my breath. I realized this when I looked at the time during my run; I was about an hour and a half in and I had NO IDEA what I’d thought about in that period of time. Not to mention I felt like I’d only been running for about 15 minutes, forget 90! This little tidbit of info came as somewhat of a relief to me. I’ve always felt kind of inferior that my very type A western born and bred personality wouldn’t allow me the luxury of clearing my mind and focusing on my breath for even a second or two. Now I realize that meditation is different for everyone, and for me, running is simply that. It’s a way to clear my mind, relax, focus on my breathing and just enjoy.

Having said that, there are times when I do solve the world’s problems while I’m running. Well, maybe not the world’s problems, but at the very least a lot of my own. Or at least I come up with some kind of plan, and that in itself is reassuring and is also a reason to keep on truckin’.

I suppose I really haven’t solved the problem of running boredom…if metacognition (thinking about how and what you’re thinking about) is skill you simply can’t master, maybe you need to join a running group, find a running buddy or download a book or a podcast to your ipod. Maybe there isn’t a solution- or maybe you can think about a solution on your next long run!

18 days until the Calgary Stampede Marathon! Oh- I suppose that means we should talk taper…

Sunday, June 1, 2008


So those of you who have been reading my blog (is anyone reading my blog??) will know by now that I do truly love running since I've mentioned it a few million times. Truly. Madly. Deeply. I can't explain how or when or why I love running, I just do. And to quote another world famous blog (ainsinanutshell) its OK to love something just because...

Anyhow, I digress. I wanted to tell you that I had one of those runs today. Yes all of you runners know what I'm talking about- one of THOSE runs. THOSE runs are the runs where your legs feel heavy, your joints are aching and you sort of had to convince yourself to get your butt out there and run in the first place. Normally I would commend myself for even getting out there for my medium-long tempo run because truth be told lately, if I don't feel like running...well...I just DON'T. But with the Calgary 26.2 looming in the not so far distance I figured I'd better lace up the shoes and get out there, especially since (SACRILEGE) I missed my long run on Friday. GASP. HORROR. I know you're just as shocked and horrified as I am but somehow it seems strangely cathartic admitting that I missed a nice 3 hour jaunt on Friday. Truthfully, I missed it because I had to attend the James Fowler High School graduation until about 5:30 and then I was off to see Lupe Fiasco, NERD, Rhianna and Kanye. Amazing show- highly recommend it in fact, which is a bit strange coming from a chick whose ipod is generally full with the likes of Metallica, Megadeath and Tool.

Anyhow, I digress again. So there I was plodding along the Glenmore Resevoir pathway when the unspeakable happened. I GOT PASSED. Those of you how know me are probably finding this all too entertaining since if you know me well, you will know that I am HIGHLY competitive. It was a bit of a blow, to be honest. I was about 45 minutes into the run and this dude in board shorts cruises on by me. Rather than focus on my own pace and my own tempo, I of COURSE had to keep pace with him rather than have my apparently fragile ego admit defeat. He wasn't really that much faster than me, and once I started to follow him, I realized that he was probably running at about the exact pace that I wanted to run. It was a bit challenging, but not so much so that I couldn't keep up.

And now we get to the incentive part- the dude turned out to be incredibly good looking and athletic. So being a single gal in the city, I decided it really was not a bad thing that he had cruised by me in his board shorts since not only did I have to keep up to him so as to not injure my pride, but the man-candy definitely made the run a little less painful. It only took a couple of minutes and my stride started to feel better and the run became a lot less laborious and much more FUN. And the FUN is important if you are going to get these miles in to be prepared for the marathon.

Sadly, the dude turned around before I could strike up a witty conversation with him; I tend to be short on the wit side of things when I'm trying to keep up, I suppose. But the moral of the story is...I guess there isn't really one except to say that we all have THOSE runs and a little incentive never hurt to get yourself through it!

Happy hills and stairs tomorrow- hopefully I'll be able to get out there for ankle is really hurting and I'm hoping it will have recovered enough for a quick one tomorrow!