Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Jan(quote-a-day)athon 2013

Run - 4.7km, Time - 26m 30s, Weather - there was an unfamiliar yellow object in the sky and the sky was blue! 

So another Janathon has arrived and this time I am not sure how I will manage. It is not the daily pressure to exercise that worries me so much as what to write - because frankly a lot of what I plan to do will be rather dull. My main running goal for 2013 is not until  October so I am using the winter to build up my strength with the hope that this will allow me to run injury free for the rest of the year. A lot of this will happen in the gym and try as I might I have little to say about lifting weights. I need an additional theme.

As my running is rubbish at the moment and 2012 was a year when everything fell to pieces. I feel that I must learn to be content with where I am and rebuild from there. In other words I must be stoical in outlook - not in the generally accepted “mustn’t grumble” meaning of the word but in the more precise way of following the advice of the Stoic philosophers of Greece and Rome. Perhaps I could write about that. Each day I could find a quote and make some tenuous connection to running and my current situation as half-arsed addendum to Stoic Week (recently organised from this blog)

I might be wrong (and I probably am if the reaction of my sister is anything to go by) but I think there is growing interest in ancient  schools of philosophy, especially the stoics. Instead of authors like Epictetus or Seneca being seen as a bit esoteric, the preserve of the minority with a classical education and therefore brushed away with the put-down of elitism, it is now recognised that they can still speak clearly of the human condition. Our way of life may have changed drastically over the past two and a half thousand years but the underlying psychology, drives and desires are the same; so their advice is still fresh. Modern academic philosophy may be arcane and highly technical but many of the ancient schools were concerned with how to live a good life and thus have much in common with modern self-help guides. This quote from Epicurus (who founded a competing philosophical school to the Stoics) shows, philosophy of that time was not for the select few but something that could be widely grasped and applied:

"Vain is the word of a philosopher that does not heal any suffering of man. For just as there is no profit in medicine if it does not expel the diseases of the body, so there is no profit in philosophy either, if it does not expel the suffering of the mind."

Strangely it reminds me of running because I believe that, for us non-competitive  runners, there is no profit in running if it does not expel the suffering of the mind. This overlap gives me hope that some sort of Jan(quote-a-day)athon might not be impossible. On the other hand it might end up being a bit silly and I abandon the idea. 

We shall see.

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