Mind over mind.

Photo courtesy of the NY Times/Freakonomics

I’ve set what I think is a challenging but appropriate monthly goal for my running – 70 miles. At 83.4 miles per month I’ll hit 1K for the year, which is my BIG goal, and I fully expect to get there, but 70 is achievable as a consistent target. That being said, this month has been wacky because of my travel schedule and some other family events (I know, I know, there’s always something) and I find myself a bit behind schedule this week. No problem! Because I find great joy and satisfaction in running (albeit after my runs, some days, rather than during) I have no problem upping my daily and weekly runs to catch up.

So today I hit the mill – third day in a row.  Not 10 strides into the workout I looked down to check if my shoes were tied together!  I felt slow, unbalanced, off beat, and downright tired.  I can’t remember the last time I checked the clock on the treadmill, calculating how much time was left, and found SINGLE DIGITS staring back at me.  I think I’d logged all of four minutes before I started wishing the run was over.

Most of my runs are spent ruminating about things going on in my life.  Typically, after about 10 minutes, the door on my brain swings wide and I step from being in the ‘front-of-the-house’ to the ‘back-of-the-house’.  Think of a restaurant – the neat and tidy front-of-the-house is where most people are.  The chaotic, lively, loud ‘back-of-the-house’ is the kitchen; full of ingredients and accessories and heat.

What I mean by this is that most of my thoughts are based on what is happening in the forefront of ‘my reality’.  When I sit at my desk, I methodically use experience, process, and theory to play out how things may happen and how to attack a problem.  I deal with issues in order of priority.  When I run, those same issues dance in a different sphere.  Being in the ‘back of the house’ my brain tinkers with ideas and, with little input from ‘me’ I come up with different resolutions and different approaches than I would at my desk.  New recipes.  I get a clarity and perspective that is somehow repressed when my brain isn’t responsible for coordinating a high level of activity.  And priority has no place when my ‘back-of-the-house’ brain is in charge.  The issues and topics are yelled by the expeditor at random.

So what, Casey?  So here’s how this comes together.  Today as I stepped on the treadmill, I was in full stew mode about work, my challenging daughter, a cramped schedule and other unsavory thoughts.  I had slept poorly and felt like crap.  THAT was what I brought with me to the run.  With baggage like that, it’s not surprising that I was in for a bad trip.  So at 3.6 miles I called the end to be 4.  I started watching the tenths of a mile tick by.  And then, when I hit 4 miles the oddest thing happened.  My brain switched off but my feet kept going.  My body wasn’t paying attention to my brain!  My head cleared.  My pace became graceful.  The back of the house was in charge – this time of my RUNNING and not just my thoughts!  I practically laughed my way though 3 more miles.

They say the mind is a powerful thing.  The funny thing is, if you let it, it can hold you back from trying new things, approaching issues from a different angle, or reaching goals.  But if you let it – if you find a way to tap into the ‘back of the house’, it will enlighten, invigorate, add ‘a dash of this’ and a ‘dollop of that’ and take you to places you never knew you could (or even wanted to) go.

Run.  Free your back-of-the-house mind.

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One thought on “Mind over mind.

  1. Sue says:

    You are just amazing honey…as happens in the best of relationships, the teacher becomes the student…you taught me something this morning and I’m going to try very hard to let the ‘back of the house’ lead me thru today…just today…one day or one mile at a time.

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