Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Work with Your Body Toward Renewal and Leaving Behind Arbitrary Goals

Today's entry will be a complex weaving of several threads.  

First, I ran a 10x400 workout this morning.  I had hoped to get down to Dunbar.  Instead, I ran at Gilman.  About 2.3 miles before my first 400.  Then ten 400's with 8 of 10 at 1:26 and one of the other two two seconds faster and the other one two seconds slower.  Why I had variation in #3 and #4 but otherwise just ran consistently, I'll never know.  Interesting to do it all alone.  Interesting to do it without being able to see splits for the early ones--too dark and light not working.  But I was glad to have a fully lap-functioning watch.  Comment about working with my body?  How I described today's workout.  With a goal of breaking 19:00 at a 5K on Memorial Day weekend, I don't have to run super fast.  In fact, running super fast right now would just do one thing--increase the probability of injury.  What I need to do is to train my body at a speed that will feel fast but under control.  That is what I ran today.  Ten 400's that were under control.  I could tell my body was doing work.  But it wasn't fighting for survival.  It wasn't going all out.  It was just working.  Working with my body makes me think of two other things.  One, Sherry's experience with childbirth and our taking Bradley instead of Lamaze classes. The emphasis is working with your body.  It reminds me of getting a therapeutic massage or my tattoo.  In each case, I just let my "self" go and trusted the person working with me to do what I needed/asked for.  Release.  Trust.  Harmony.  It even makes me think of Waldorf education and how it is intended to be tied to the child's developmental phases.  

Second thing today.  This puts me at about 649.9 miles.  That puts me on Terra Haut Rd headed out of Worthington, Indiana.  Continuing through the midwest.

Third thing today.  With Easter, I changed my profile picture on Facebook, my picture on the Connecting the Dots page on Facebook, and my cover photo on Facebook.  Here are the three pictures.  Fun.  Symbols of new life and family.  Good theme with the resurrection.  Fr. Sam made a comment about Easter not being one day for a lifetime of searching ways to find new life--with Jesus, of course, in this context.

Two other things.  I said that my last entry was going to be the last about Boston.  Alas, I was wrong.

What else got my attention today?  First, a story about Ryan Hall.  If the story is true, this is the stuff that a book or movie will be made of some day.  And it is the stuff that can bring a tear to the eye of someone who has ever truly experienced "team".  The story says that the fastest US marathon runner in history used his leadership and held the American runners other than Meb back.  Why?  So that the non-US runners would not have "help" in catching up to Meb.  This is an amazing self-sacrifice to get an American to win the race.  It shows strategy.  It shows teamwork.  It shows caring about the bigger picture goal.  It shows not putting one's own needs first.  It reminds me of the best 1600m I ever ran.  I was with a bunch of guys who just hung around at a comfortable (back in the day) 70 second per mile pace.  I just hung in.  I rode the wave to my best time.  If I had pushed, I'm sure that they other guys would have pushed and left me in the dust as happened the next day.  Running is a very mental and tactical sport on some days.  Yesterday was one.  And it brought an incredible victory for American running.

Finally, a post in the New York times that a fellow health economist and runner posted a link to.  It was about marathon running and bad investments.  It noted how marathon runners focus on running arbitrary distances--why 26.2 miles? or even why 5K?--at arbitrary times--why break 4:00:00?  At least some runners get satisfaction from coming in under rather than over that arbitrary time.  Of course, I am sometimes guilty.  Aiming for a 19:00 5K.  Having to run a 3:15:00 marathon to qualify for Boston.  But then I assessed my last three marathons: 3:15:45/3:14:25/3:15:56.  By the criteria of what was just over or just under a target time, two of these would be considered complete failures.  And yet, I don't see them that way.  I do describe the 3:15:45 as heart-breaking most times when I talk about it.  But I also describe it as exhilarating as it was the first time I'd broken 3:20 and was more than a six minute improvement over a race I'd run six weeks earlier.  The article in the NYT talked about making sure to keep track of long term goals rather than having arbitrary short-term goals in investing.  When all is said and done, while there will always be those somewhat arbitrary target times as long as I run, I realize what I have done to cope with missing them as often as not.  I have reset my expectations.  I look for lessons in whatever the outcome of the race.  If I come in just under a target time--bonus!  But in general, the goal is simple. Run.  Enjoy.  Learn.

To conclude that brings me back to my friend Lauren.  As a running mentor, if there is one thing that I would hope I could teach her about life and running, it is to avoid the arbitrary goals that society or our shared sport or ourselves place on what we do.  To take the good with the bad.  To live it all.  To truly experience it all.  And to learn from it all as we go along.  Happiness is in the learning.  Living is in the learning.  I think that she has actually learned much of this in her young 22 years.  But there is always room for learning and reminders.  

And, as on so many days, the last couple have brought a lot of lessons I shall reflect on by and by.  And wonder, why I am so lucky to have them.

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