Why take the time now to use this blog as an outlet? Well, partly, because quite unexpectedly, things seem to have aligned for me just recently, and in a way that has quite confounded me.
Only a few weeks ago, I stood firmly by my decision not to enter another marathon for a while. I didn’t particularly enjoy Robin Hood Marathon in September. It was my first marathon and quickly that I didn’t have enough respect for the distance and the demands and effects it would place upon my body, during and afterward. I thought my chances of getting a place in either World Marathon Major I had entered the ballots for were so slim that I had resolved that I wasn’t going to run a marathon in 2018. Well, that all changed in the space of a matter of a few days.
On 30th November, I got a ballot place for Berlin. This was the third time I had entered the ballot, so the phrase third time lucky seems to be an actual thing! On 6th December, I was drawn to run London with one of Team Derby Runner’s club places.
The above isn’t quite true.
As the draws for both ballots drew nearer I took a little time each day to consider whether I would actually like to run them. Despite reservations about the amount of training that would be required, the answer that came back with both, was, of course, yes! An NEJ clubmate asked in November if I was going to consider Manchester marathon as a lot of club mates have entered it. I replied then with a no, but perhaps only because there might still, however marginal it might have been, be a possibility that one of London or Berlin could still be a possibility. When I really thought about it I can think of nothing better than starting my race in London running through the streets of Greenwich and Woolwich. I live in south east London and those streets are those that I usually drive along. I also pictured myself running along Straße des 17 Juni and most importantly, the Hohnzollerndamm, a Berlin street which is part of the marathon course. My grandparents lived off a side street.
I feel like I was practising a rudimentary form of goal visualisation. A Discovery skill I definitely wish to improve and develop further.
This, I think, is very similar to something called the Law of Attraction: the theory that when you truly want something and go after it without limiting yourself with disbelief, then the universe will make it happen. The theory is that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.This is something my partner Amy strongly believes in and it’s the only thing I can think of to adequately explain my recent luck.
I’ve been much less open to it than Amy, my mind’s less open to the spiritual and non-tangible, but the process surrounding my having obtained these marathon places has really made me reconsider it, even just be a little bit more receptive as a form of cognitive action. It surely can’t be complete coincidence can it? As an outpatient I learned that cognition and thought have impacts upon the body. Anger, anxiety and other negative emotions created by our minds can almost instantly change how our bodies feel. That’s quite remarkable when you think about it. Isn’t it possible then that the mind, even in some rudimentary way, could well have some direct impact upon how our future lives will unfold? Thoughts are things after all, just like objects are things too.
This is something very similar, at least in part, to something written by Eric Orton in his book about the development of athleticism. His assertion is that awareness is everything. That simple word relates to our own awareness of form and technique, awareness of our effort level, and, perhaps most importantly, awareness of what we think (and don’t think). With that awareness comes the possibility of endless potential, improvement, progress and, in time, achievement. When I read one particular passage of his in particular regarding awareness and cognition, one thing stood out:
“If our past experiences influence our thinking in the present, and our present thinking influences the actions we will take in the future, then: our thinking in the present creates the future.”
Let me repeat that last bit again as it really did jump out at me the first time I read it:
“Our thinking in the present creates the future”.
That floored me with its accuracy. I hope it had the same effect when you read it just now? It’s yet another Discovery gem to add to many I’ve been fortunate enough to come across this year.
So what am I taking from my experience of that first marathon, now that I have places in two of the world’s biggest events. That this distance is, and will be, a battle both physically and mentally. Now that I’ve got experience of that struggle, it’s something I can prepare well for and work on how I overcome the doubts about my endurance ability when they rear their ugly head. Mindset is everything.
What comes to mind here is somethving Dalio perhaps put it best in his suggestion that eventual success doesn’t come from simply just achieving your goals, but from struggling well.
Quick Links and Bits:
I read and see a lot, and often quickly forget what I’ve read almost in its entirety. The below are really worth a moment of your time:
- Wesley Korir says it all: Running Is Addictive.
- Last time I posted a piece by Alex Hutchinson about whether the physical limits we perceive are just figments of our overactive brains. A few day ago I pre-ordered his new book about the science of endurance and the role our minds play in that process. Alex posted the contents page online at Outside.com a little while ago. It looks like it will be an engrossing read for this geek.
- I struggle with finding that all important balance and getting done everything I would like to achieve. For me it’s a source of some consternation. These pieces by Alexi Pappas and Jenny Nesbitt are very much worth a read. Sure, Alexi’s piece has a clickbaity title, it drew my attention initially because of the napping but they give sound advice, much of which is going to take some time to absorb.
- When we’re feeling low it can certainly be difficult to get out there for some exercise even though we know it will do us good. In these situations the best thing we can do to change our mental state is to change our physical state. Mood follows action.
- There’s been quite a steep personal learning journey for me so far in 2017. The biggest realisation being that happiness isn’t really where I expected it to be. I’m working hard to realise that contentment is to be found in the moments you find enjoyable, not in the goal you’re seeking. This piece, along with the mountain metaphor, is far more clear than my ramblings, which really act only as a form of positive reinforcement. Here’s the Facebook thread I originally discussed this in too.
- I spend a lot of time reading but I have a problem. I don’t know whether you have the same problem but I often forget what I’ve read or don’t retain it. This might help me. I’m going to put it into practice in 2018. I’d like to have more time to read too. I stumbled upon some useful tips. They’re common sense but very much worth taking the time to do.