During this or any previous bout of running, I have always had a physical finish line during training, previously it was a bridge, currently its a sign post. I decided on this after my first ever training run as you know when to stop and helps you beat ‘the wall’.
This means that I plot my route backwards, previously I used a paper map, a piece of string ,a ruler and few choice words. A truly frustrating experience, with one too many calculations for me to be comfortable with. I’ve now discovered Mapometer.com. This simple, user friendly website even lets you plot ‘off piste’. A really useful tool as I’m sure most runners like parks. The phrase ‘off piste’ , wasn’t just thrown in there as you can select cross-country skiing as the sport your taking part in too.
The finish line is just one of the ways I have tried to overcome the mind over matter of distance running. A few years ago I read the best book about running there is – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. This is a memoir about running and writing that instils the reader with the mantra that “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. This phrase is the most useful six words anyone has written or will ever write about running.
You will be in pain, but its up to you how you react to it, your body is capable of far more than your mind thinks it is.
As well as that incredible quote, the book also digs deep into how the running is of a huge help to Murakami’s writing. I’m finding that since ditching the MP3 player that my time spent running is valuable creative time, this helps me not only with my radio and writing work but keeps my mind from acknowledging that my knees are killing me and my face has invented a new shade of red. My imaginary finish line is helping this too, one less running question my brain has to think about, helping the creative process get to work.
I only intended to be temporary jogger – up to and including the 10k I told myself. But with the positive effects on my work, as well as seeing off the last of the Christmas weight I like to add at winter time, I might just carry on past this ‘mind-created’ finish line.
Paul Tyler is the presenter of Lincoln A to Z on Siren FM – Mondays 9pm