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.

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