Monday, August 24, 2009

The Runner Camaraderie

When I started running, I knew one person that ran regularly. After a few years, I had many friends that run. Some I have made because we became running partners first. Through the many hours on the road, chatting it up, we became close friends. Other runners that I know were aquaintances or old friends before I began running; I just never knew they were runners. After I became hooked on running, it's as if there was a whole newfound camaraderie with us, as if we had this "inside knowledge" about something that noone else knew: running is fun!
I soon learned something else; talking to non-runners about running is difficult and often not worth the effort. No matter what, it was as if they just could not understand or maybe didn't care enough to try. Running is like no other topic in these regards. It feels as if there is a deep understanding among others in the sport, whether they are fast or slow, run short races or long. A runner who is truly committed is a runner who is truly committed, no matter how they engage in the sport.

Maybe we are a little crazy; that sure is the way that the non-runner can make us feel sometimes. Any minor ache that we recite aloud to the non-runner, especially a sedentary person, is a perfect reason for us to stop running to them and, rest assured, they will tell you immediately and ask you to join them for beer, nachos and a couch. Soon the runner learns to only talk about our minor (or sometimes major) aches and pains to other runners, because they are the only ones who understand. Other runners are the only ones that we can trust to give us an honest response of whether or not we really need to rest a nagging ache or pain. This is how the camaraderie stays so strong. Other runners (and sometimes other athletes, mostly in other endurance sports) are the only ones who can understand the need to continue by whatever means necessary to get the feeling of release, of freedom, of power, etc. that we get from running. Runners know that the ultimate goal is to be able to continue to run now, but also to continue to run forever.

Runners are a rare breed...and I am honored to be one of them.
Happy running : )

Monday, August 17, 2009

Random Psych Related Thought

I was listening to KT Tundstall and she says, "My heart knows me better than I know myself, so I'm gonna let it do all the talking." It made me think:

There is a life-long relationship between the "heart" (emotions) and the mind (rational thinking). When people ask, "Which should I listen to?" I believe that it is never as black and white as one would hope. Any relationship takes comprimise, based entirely on the situation at hand, how strong the convictions are of the parties involved, and what seemingly will satisfy both parties as much as possible. Such is the delicacy of the skill required to balance the "heart" and the mind in an attempt to maintain a healthy sense of self.

The trickiest part of this particular relationship is that there is no escape, as many people seem to be utilizing as a solution much more in recent times. The "heart" and mind are inseperable, part of the same entitely, consistenly struggling to maintain order, harmony and peace, while impacting the self. It seems like much of life consists of this very same principle; do whatever possible to maintain the highest possible level of order, harmony, and peace. It is when incongruency occurs when either the mind, the soul, the body, or the "heart" springs into almost instant action in an attempt to return life back to its harmonious state.

It's all about balance and comprimise.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Made to Run

I have read that running (especially distance running) may be "natural" to humans because of the tie to our primal hunting technique of hunting faster animals over long distances at an even pace until they tired enough to kill them. Also, I have heard of sprinting as possibly inciting the fight or flight response. So, is the tie to a genetic predisposition for certain techniques "in the wild" the reason that some of us love running so much? Is it satisfying some instinctual desire?

What are your thoughts?


Runners are Smarter

I know that I can say without hesitation that I think more clearly and quickly on the days which I exercise. My memory is more efficient, my thoughts come easier and I feel I can comprehend more easily after I run. I have always attributed it to mostly a better mood and less stress, almost a clearing out of my mental clouding, but perhaps it is more.

I just came across an article, which I thought may be of interest to this blog. It is written by T. A. Sloan from the Discovery Health channel, who has come across some material suggesting that exercise stimulates not only new connections in the brain, but possibly new cell growth. The new growth is found in areas of cognition, learning and memory. The brain growth is attributed to the increased micro blood vessels and oxygen in the brain, which occurs during exercise and promotes neurogenesis. These things along with endorphins are attributed to a more alert state and better memory retention far after exercise is ceased. Also, it is pretty well known that interaction with the environment is key to promoting new brain connections. (Sloan, 2009) While running, there is much about the environment and how we are experience it which is registered by the brain. This may have an affect on the growth as well.

An experiment in 1998 showed that mice who were exposed to environmental stimuli grew brain cells. A wheel was introduced and the mice were allowed to run as long and fast as they wanted, whenever they wanted. Those mice who participated in the activity grew TWICE as many cells as the mice who did not run. Now, it is probably a combination of the two, running and stimuli, which cause this astounding cell growth, possibly due to the increased oxygen and blood vessels which accompany running. (Sloan, 2009) The combination creates a "win-win" so to speak, as your brain is now more efficiently RECEIVING the information that is being introduced.

Has anyone noticed a feeling of easier thinking, remembering or learning since beginning to run/exercise?? Have you ever noticed that the conversation flows so effortlessly, honestly, and deeply while you exercise with a friend?? Have you noticed increased "epiphonies" while exercising??

What are your thoughts?


Sloan, T.A. (2009). Mind-Body Exercise Connection. Retrieved August 6, 2009, from