A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

Nov 29, 2008

Lessons in Running

Today I completed the longest run I'll have before the marathon - a 20 mile run that took me around my neighborhood in northeast Portland and then down to my work in downtown Portland and back. The route looks like this:

As I was running today I felt great. These long runs are
always a good time to think through what's been going on in my life and how I feel about different things. It's a weird Zen state that one enters into, very peaceful and objective. The Zen of the iPod.

As far as the run today went I made it in just over 4 hours, which is about on target for what I thought it would be. I anticipate finishing the marathon on 12/21 in just over 5 hours. Today at around mile 18 I got this great feeling like I could do anything, and for the first time I realized I would complete the marathon. I know it'll be fine now, and a euphoria came over my whole body.

Of course, when I got home I stretched and took a shower and then laid on the bed, at which point every muscle and tendon below my waist decided to form into tight little angry balls that are still hurting me now. But I'll be fine by tomorrow or the day after.

During my run I was inspired to post about the different strategies and life lessons that the marathon training has taught me. I want to get this down before I move on with my life and the insights I've had float off into the ether.

The thought I'd like to share with you now is this: no matter how bad you feel when you're running very long distances, don't stop or give up. Walk. It's amazing what walking can do for you.

Firstly, sore and cramped muscles that are rebelling are placated. Panic is avoided and rational thought is given the opportunity to return. Running creates a sense of other-worldliness in which
you are simultaneously both very aware and very separate from your body. By walking, you can focus on what you are feeling and what might be causing your problems.

Luckily, I've had a pretty healthy time of it as I trained for the
marathon, but I did have at least one occasion where I felt seriously ill during a run. (Never mind the time last May when I fell and broke my elbow - then got up and completed my run before going to urgent care.) Walking for a little while gave me the time and presence of mind to make a good choice (to call Jen to consult) and ultimately to end that run early. Likewise, during my 18 mile run I would have given up at mile 15 or so if I hadn't taken the time to walk about a mile or so until my muscles loosened up and the pain in my joints subsided, after which I easily completed the run.

I've always been pretty patient, but I think this lesson is also
helping me in my daily life. It's a good lesson that when
things aren't feeling right or a situation is calling for drastic
change, sometimes the best thing is to ease up on what's
occurring at the moment. Maybe not halt completely, but slow down and think through the inputs that I can observe and what hidden message might be escaping me in my haste to finish a task. I might indeed decide to bag my current course of action and take a completely different tact, or it might just be that I need a new emphasis in what I'm doing now. Either way, letting up can give me the breathing space to validate what I should do next.