Sunday, June 10, 2007

Some days are just slower than others

Sometimes do you feel like just giving up? That the effort you put in is not only not making things better but just making things worse? That, in short, it is all a waste of time?

Today I was very close to thinking all those things as I was running through countryside, on a sunny day, in the St Albans half. The more I tried to run at a reasonable pace, the more I slowed down and the more puzzled I became. Instead of muscles I think my legs were made of molasses. At the seven miles marker I checked my pace for the past mile and could not believe I could run that slowly. I really felt like giving up in disgust.

But and this is a big but, you cannot give up just because you are having a bad day. The only thing you can do is carry on. I had to change my attitude though, had to say that this was not a race but a long slow Sunday morning run (easy to say because it was all of those things).

Ah well I finished in the end, got my medal, got my T shirt and thought it was a nice, well organised event. I think I will come back next year and lay this ghost to rest.

In answer to the question do you feel like giving up? Yes but not really. What I really feel like doing is changing things to get better. Onwards and upwards!

PS When describing my legs I used the word molasses because it reminded me of a scene in the WC Fields film 'It's a Gift'. At the start of the film he is a put-upon store keeper. A gang of kids come in and mess up the store, knocking over a barrel of molasses which then spreads over the entire floor. The next shot you see is the closed shop door with a notice " Shop closed due to molasses". i think that is my favourite sign.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Left Side Right Side

When I started this blog, way back in January 2005, all of the entries carried a tag line with a reason for running, eg here and here. I stopped because, after a time, it felt a little contrived. Nevertheless the point of continuing to write this blog is to explore the mystery of why I run and why it gives me satisfaction, even though I am objectively not very good and my age rather limits my chances of getting very much better.

I was thinking about this when listening to the book plugging programme that is 'Start the Week' when the subject was Wild by Jay Griffiths. Amongst other things her book is about the need for wilderness and the way it feeds our imagination. At one point she contrasted the vivacity of an aboriginal representation of an area of Australia with the dry emptiness of a European map of the area. At that point I thought of the internal battle I am constantly engaged in. On the one hand I strive for clear logical thought (the emphasis is on the struggle as it is infrequently attained). When trying to describe, or understand, the world around us we have to be rigorous and any idea should be open to being rationally contested. In other words I am a great believer in the scientific approach and my underlying philosophical approach is that of the Enlightenment. However what I value and viscerally respond to are works of the imagination. I love the wildness, the unexpected connections and the spark.

The fight will always go on without resolution. All that can happen is that at any one time one side or the other will have temporary ascendancy. But in running there is something that unites both part of the brain.

Mostly I run to feed the imagination. It gets me closer to the countryside, I see things with fres eyes and it allows me to enter a meditative state. However there is also the science bit. Mostly this is the domain of the hard core runners seeking to be seriously competitive but I still find it fascinating. In some ways I look at it from a distance as I lack the discipline to decide on a schedule and stick to it, but I love trying to work out what I should be doing. It is also why I admire people like Windsurfin Susie who is always trying to improve her knowledge about the relationship between heart rate and performance. More importantly she practices what she preaches.

So there you have it -

Reason for Running No. 14: It unites the left and right side of the brain

PS the success of 'Start the Week' for authors can be seen on Amazon, where the sales of Wild are linked to Blood River, one of the other books on last Monday's programme. Obviously enough people were impressed enough to buy both books together.