Monday, August 15, 2011

Running Against the Demon Within

I've spent a lot of time writing about how great running is.

I stick by that.

Nothing's better for clearing your mind of the fog that an average day leaves behind.

Running's the best way to rid your body of stress, and pounds.

Running is the purest form of exercise you can do, and I always feel better after a run than I did before.

But running's not always fun.

When you can run exactly as far as you want to, and exactly as fast as you want to, like you did when you were a kid, it's glorious.

When you have goals, when you are pushing yourself, when you're retraining your body to be faster, or to run longer, there are moments of less than delight.

Running for running's sake is wonderful. Running to stay fit is pleasant. Running to get into good running shape is work.

There's something extra crappy about turning something you love into work.

As soon as you start to measure your run, by the mile, or by the minute, or in the worst case, both, you build in the opportunity for disappointment, even failure. This is especially so when you are far from your goal.

There are moments of despair. There are times when you hear a tiny voice saying that you'll never be as fast or as strong as you want to be. That's your brain talking, and your brain's job is to keep you alive. To the brain, uncomfortable is a couple steps in the wrong direction from alive.

Your brain is protecting itself from you, and your intellect. It's your intellect that has you outside, running past comfortable, knowing that the effort will make you better.

But the brain is strong, and loud, and if you're mentally weak, it can take over. Becoming a stronger runner is as much a mental process as it is physical. In fact, wrestling the brain's rationalizations and fear is a lot harder than running farther, or faster.

When you defeat the demon inside your skull, it's exhilarating and liberating. When the demon gets the best of you, it makes for a shitty run.

My run today: Demon 1 Me 0.

Rematch tomorrow.

Good running,
Doug

Image from here.