Monthly Archives: August 2013

Learning to Feel

The brain is the seat of all our possibilities and limitations as runners. The brain governs how  fast and how far we can run. If we become faster and more enduring, it is mostly because we have changed our brains or better harnessed their power. -Matt Fitzgerald, The Mind Body Method of Running by Feel.

I have not been practicing affirmations or plugging into the superhighway of knowledge about speed and endurance that  my brain holds, lately. Well. . . until Saturday. I had a good but wretchedly humid run on Friday with a friend. I spent two hours in the woods, dripping with sweat. Sweat that I could squeeze out of my shorts, like you squeeze water out of a sponge. In a word, “GROSS”. So far this season, I have had to throw out two shirts because of the sour stench that would not go away in the wash.

Saturday was different. I decided to run in such a way that I would not let myself get out of breath. I managed to run the entire two hours up and down hills at the same pace. When I felt out of breath, I would simply slow down. I tuned in to a somewhat hypnotic song. It was slow, but the beat in the background kept me moving. I played it over and over. I tuned everything else out. My run was about breathing in and out. I did not perceive the hills as difficult. I did not stop to walk them, either. I just kept focusing on my breath. I would ask myself from time to time, could you do this for 10 hours? The answer was a resounding, “YES!” My average pace was 14:39 for 2 hours and 12 minutes. This is running by feel. Running by feel is not running without a Garmin. Check out my Garmin post. I still wore my Garmin.

Why 10 hours? My race is 7 weeks away. I have 39 miles to run. I do not know exactly how long it will take, somewhere between 10-12 hours? There will be challenges. The challenges bring out the best parts of the story. There is something so exhilarating to me about taking my place at the starting line and knowing that I have all that I might need for the next 10 or so hours to run 39 miles. And, what I may be lacking will be provided every couple hours or so by persons kind enough to fill up my water bottles and fill up the m & m trays. 🙂

I’m ‘Learning to Feel’ again. In sport’s psychology,  it is called getting in the “zone” or “flow”. You become so aware of what you are doing that it becomes automatic. You become fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus and enjoyment in the process of the activity. I’ll finish with this quote from sprinter Mark Richardson.

‘It’s a very strange feeling. It’s as if time slows down and you see everything so clearly. You just know that everything about your technique is spot on. It just feels so effortless; it’s almost as if you’re floating across the track. Every muscle, every fibre, every sinew is working in complete harmony and the end product is that you run fantastically well.’



Working on finding “ultra-inspiration” for my upcoming race. It will be the longest that I have raced to date, 39 miles. I just bought a book called, Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell. Cannot wait to receive it in the mail!!  So many questions to ask myself,  would I like to drink something different? Do I want to try hand helds, instead of a backpack, maybe both? What will I put in my drop bag? How long do I want to run before the race? Should I run some hill repeats on the trails to prepare? Should I run some intervals/tempos on the trail to prepare?

It’s August. I am glad. That means the kids are headed to school this week. It means that my running group is getting ready to hit the track on a consistent basis. It means that Saturdays will consist of long runs, long talks on the long runs and long showers, when I get home. Thinking about that makes me smile!! In addition to the inspiration that I can find in the quotes below, I also find inspiration in the people I run with. It is good just knowing that we will completely get each other for the next 16 or so weeks.

Check out these shorts, track attack shorts! These are my favorite shorts, EVER!! I have them in 3 colors. They fit athletic thighs, like mine!

Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further. . . past what your mind wants to let you. That’s what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you’ve never known. –Rex Pace

I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run. . . to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that. –Dean Karnazes

Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself-expanding and learning as you go-you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip. –Dean Karnazes

If your life is like mine, you don’t often have stretches of several hours of uninterrupted mental space. Outside of my running. I think it is common for me to go weeks at a time without more than 30 minutes of pure head space in which I’m not interrupted by someone else’s thoughts, needs, or words. Running has, thus, become my routine that I use to get this individual space. If I’m feeling crowded in by other people’s agendas, I can always put on the shoes, head out into the mountains, and be guaranteed a lot of space to be myself, and to be true to myself.-Geoff Roes