09 April 2013

ghost in the machine

the other day i posted a quick facebook update, and received this comment in response: 

now i know myself well enough to be able to safely assert that i am not a machine.  many people that i know (in my age group and of comparable life circumstances) are training much more and much harder than i am.  while i'm happy with my progress with respect to this training program that i am currently following (which pushed me from my previous regimen of five days per week to six), i make no pretenses of setting any kind of standard to which anyone should aspire.

that being said, i also read a blogpost yesterday from someone who finds herself struggling with consistency in her running, and was asking for help in trying to stay focused and on-track with a training plan.  i honestly admire that, because i think that one of keys to developing as a runner and improving race times (should that be your intention) is consistency.  and i'm certainly not the only one who thinks that.

but of course, it's one thing to say that consistency is vital - and another thing to develop the kind of consistency that will lead to results.  so just a few thoughts from me on how to develop consistency:
  1. mantras - much has been made of the value of activating mind over matter through the use of mantras, even in running.  admittedly, some of my mantras are pretty goofy - everything from "these legs were made for running, and that's just what they'll do ..." to "i'm on my way home" when i've just left my driveway (i always run an out-and-back route so it works).  but there are days - like today - where the alarm goes off before the sun has come up and i just don't feel leaving the pillow ... but it's "just step one foot in front of the other" that helps to overcome the inertia.
  2. chutzpah - i have to confess that i just like this word.  but i also like what it implies - a sense of confidence, even over-blown arrogance that propels an individual to succeed.   i would be surprised if anyone would cast me as a braggart, but in my mind i often motivate myself with thoughts of "i'm finishing 15km before most people have gotten out of bed".  that sense of comparative accomplishment is quite honestly some great fuel.
  3. persistent gratitude - which seems to conflict with the chutzpah just described, but really it's part of the comprehensive picture of why i run.  when asked that question, i usually answer "because i can".  one of the first great stories of endurance feats that i came across was that of rick and dick hoyt - if you aren't familiar with team hoyt then you need to watch this video:

    when i know that i have the ability to get out there and run but choose to take the path of least resistance and opt for the couch instead, i'm reminded of rick and dick hoyt.  and echoes of steve prefontaine's words haunt my mind:

jog.  run.  sprint.  tempo.  fartleks.  LSD.  recovery.  whatever it is, you have it in you.


  1. Patrick, here is a great blog for you to check out.
    I really enjoy reading your blog and I am so happy to hear that Stan is O.K. ~ Sherri

    1. thanks for following the blog, sherri! i really admire rick ball, and think that it's quite cool that he's a 'local' hero! i will definitely start watching his progress, and hope that he heals up quickly!