Blog Subtitle

Reverse-engineering the Ultramarathon

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Little things mean a lot to me...

When you’re not fast and increasingly suspect you’re not going to be, you take pleasure in other small victories.

I sat cross-legged yesterday.

Pretty underwhelming for a lot of people out there, I imagine, but pretty big stuff to me. You see, I didn’t even realize I had done it at first. I had the debate on last night while I was down on the floor rolling out a couple tight spots (they’re called ‘legs’). Then I finished and sat up in place, watching the TV.

When I looked down and realized what I was doing I was a bit surprised. My legs don’t bend that way – or if they do, it won’t be long before they’re quite unhappy about it. Since they hadn’t noticed yet I decided to stay in that position and see how long it took before I had to move.

(Yes, I admit that the two candidates for my nation’s highest office took a back seat in my attention for a while to the simple fact of my sitting like a pretzel.)

I waited for my legs to hurt, or go to sleep... nothing... nada!

I leaned forward and rested my elbows on my knees. That worked well. I leaned back and put my hands on the floor. That was pretty comfortable too.
Eventually (this may be hard to believe) I got bored with this and started paying attention to the debate again. I waited until that was over and I got up off the floor. I had just successfully sat cross-legged on the floor watching TV!

This is a little thing, assuredly, but as I say: little things mean a lot to me. Six years ago I was one of those old people who never (ever) got down on the floor if I could help it because getting up again wasn't pretty and was accompanied by groans that really only should be heard in a hospital setting. Now I can sit on the floor watching TV like a kid.

Nothing accounts for this change over the last six years as much as running does. I started out six years ago emphasizing strength training, which was a good thing because first I had to build some muscle. But hanging meat on your bones - even if done with compound exercises - just doesn't glue the body together as a cohesive unit like running does - at least that's the way it feels for me. Moving the entire body over the earth, every limb pumping, the core providing the stable platform for all that motion, heart and lungs revved up but well within comfort zone - that just feels like what we were born to do (and no, I never pass up a good cliché).

I was reminded of that feeling again tonight, out running a few miles around the neighborhood. There is that point, maybe a half-mile or a mile into a run, when everything settles into a real rhythm, your body remembers that this is what it was designed to do, and it feels like there is no reason you couldn't just go like this as long as you want to. I love that point.

It's a little thing - maybe even a very little thing - but as I say for me, little things mean a lot.

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