I just finished a long run. No, I didn’t do track and field, so my “long run” is probably not impressive to you—I don’t care. Friend me on Nike Running Club if you’re curious about the distance.
Today’s run was qualitatively different run. Not a routine afternoon jog, but a run that pushes the limits; finishing comes as a sort of pleasant surprise. I marked out this afternoon a few days in advance and skipped today’s morning workout to preserve some energy. Here are the thoughts floating through my head:
I’m not tired. It’s probably the endorphins. Slowing a sudden stop leaves a massive excess of pain blockers that overcompensate for the residual pain. Today, after I finished, I felt so invigorated that I sprinted the rest of the way home. Only after 5 to 10 minutes of rest did the heat and fatigue start to kick in. Cool biological mechanism!
I am a funnel. Water enters my mouth without limit. Peter the funnel also processes protein bars.
I want to do more. While munching on my protein bars, I instinctively searched for essay contests. I don’t write essays. If I did, they would definitely not win contests. Why did I do that?
I currently have deep mental clarity. Sort of like post-nut clarity, but without the crippling self-disappointment. It probably has to do with how I run.
A month ago, I listened to a podcast episode from Hidden Brain in which psychologist Emily Belcetis discussed deep interplay between our vision and our thoughts. What we see has a powerful influence on what we think and the decisions we subsequently make. It’s why the fruits are put at eye level in the school lunch line. Marathon runners take advantage of the eye-mind connection by focusing all their attention on a target in the distance. By keeping their eyes on the prize—whether it be a lamppost, a tree, or a building—26.2 miles can be split into a bunch of smaller, more manageable tasks. Just run to the lamppost!
And get this: when you narrow your attention to just that target, it ends up appearing physically closer. The eyes-on-the-prize approach therefore both limits distractions and provides empowerment.
I wonder if remnants of this attitude persist after I finish a run. I don’t know how the vision aspect would work into it, but focusing on immediate, achievable goals seems like a powerful tool for mindfulness and productivity.
If you don’t, you should try running too. It’s awesome.
I still have to fix some stupid bug on a website. God dammit. Wish me luck.
Just an hour after this post went up, I was emailed—and I shit you not—about the exact same aforementioned essay contest. To Catherine Haller Guzman of the Prizes and Honors Program, I appreciate your interest in my blog and I would love to have a coffee chat. In addition, I will definitely be submitting an entry—for you, and for you only.