January 5, 2012

It’s All In Your Head

It’s All In Your Head

Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.  ~Richard Bach

It somehow seems that now that I am running and writing about running, everyone I know is a runner and wants to talk about running. I had no idea how many runners I know.

So yesterday, as I was lamenting the pain in my leg, I had a cup of coffee with a friend who has been running since high school. We talked about my injury and injuries he has had. We talked about shoes, and insoles and other gear. We talked about apps and gadgets, and things like the difference between running with music or just running with the thoughts in your head.

We talked about marathons. OK – he talked about marathons. He has run a few and I listened as he talked with a dreamy look about wanting to run Boston (again) and to “requalify for Boston at Boston.” I had really no idea what that meant, but when you see a runner passionately talking about running, you can’t stop them. They often get into a day-dreamy state of ecstasy that I can’t help but to admire.

When he finished, I said something like “Wow, I think it’s amazing that you can run that far and that you love it that much. Me, I can just barely run 3 miles right now and 5 sounds like a trip to the moon.”

“Oh, you could run a 10k right now if you wanted,” he says. “I ran a 10k when I was training at 3 miles a day – you could do that, no problem.”

I think I laughed.

“I can’t imagine running a 10k,” I said.

You see, that is just it. If I step back for a minute, I can see that maybe just maybe my physical body could run that far and not die. (Though it might want to). But I can’t imagine it. It seems way too big, too vast, too far, too much, too something. Do you ever try to imagine the size of the universe? Or the number of all the grains of sand on a beach? I realized in that moment that the distance of ten kilometers (6.25 miles) sounded just about as big and hard to grasp when I thought about me running that distance by myself under my own power.

How do you separate it? How do you know when the limit really is a physical limit or one that is purely in your imagination? In some small way, having an experienced outside observer say to me you can do that opens the door to the possibility that my imagination is wrong. Our minds are incredibly powerful – they literally control our bodies – so very often if we can’t first believe that we can do a thing then we really can’t do it.

So if I could do it…

My question really is How do I close that gap?  How does one make ten kilometers sound more like five kilometers (what I basically run now) than like the number that constitutes all the stars in the sky? What moves our internal bar up or down so that we can imagine jumping over it?

Letting go of our limits is hard to do. Some of them make sense, right? We have been taught or learned certain rules of the road in our lives to keep us out of harm’s way. The trick I suppose is recognizing the ones that matter and separating them form the ones that don’t. I am not sure that I ever actually want to run a 10k, but there might be a lot to be learned from letting go of the belief that I can’t.

By the way – a painless 3 mile run on my treadmill today. Not sure when I’ll try a hill again, but happy to be mended and back on my way.




No comments yet.

Leave a comment