Thursday, February 09, 2006

Which way to run?

I am leaving tomorrow to compete in an indoor track meet at the University of Houston.

I was discussing the same with a fellow track athlete the other day and we also discussed the idea of competing versus running in a different mind set. Most of you don’t care a flip about my track adventures I know, but the idea we discussed has application for many things in our lives.

My friend and I were discussing the competitive field this Saturday and also the competitors in the upcoming Indoor World Championships in Linz, Austria.

As is the custom with athletes we discussed the idea of those we will have to compete against and how we might fare against the field. In a different translation; who can we defeat and who might beat us in any particular event.

I mentioned to the friend that there are two possible concepts available.

I can place my positive energies in imaging myself defeating other runners, or I can place negative energy in believing I can’t beat them.


I can run with true spirit, mentally separating myself from the competition and move down the track without notice of them, running in the sense of simply arriving at the finish through the art of running swiftly within my capabilities, no regard to competition, simply running fast for the joy of running fast. Feeling the track disappear behind me and the joy of knowing there is more track in front to be placed behind.

I like it the second way though it is sometimes hard to bring myself to that perception before the starter pistol sounds.

I believe for all of us, whatever we do, when we find this different way of practicing our individual skills or crafts we experience a level of satisfaction that exceeds and lasts beyond the mere vanquishing of a competitor.

Performing with the simple joy of doing the thing I do; rather than "how many people can I do this better than?"

I know it is a simple thought. Sometimes those are the best thoughts.

Now I Get It.......maybe


Grant said...

There's always option 3 - Nancy/Tonya their ankles and then stroll across the finish line at your leisure, eating a burrito.

Option 2 sounds kind of like "Claim victory in your heart and there will be no need to compete." So just declare yourself the winner, go home, sit on the couch, drink beer, and watch porn.

Don't forget option 4, which involves focusing your negative energies on a voodou doll.

Option 2 actually sounds like what a lot of athletes refer to as "The Zone." I do my best writing there, although I usually have to struggle through 500 - 1,000 words before I get lost in it and the story takes on its own life.

Seven said...

Indeed my is the Zone...and you apparently have been there...
Where is Tonya; I miss her!

Jenn said...

I ran track in high school.

I remember when I was first competing, as we lined up at the blocks, everyone would ask each others' times. So I would ask too.

I also remember when I realized that knowing someone else's time in a race wouldn't really have any affect on my speed.

About the same time I realized that, my family life took a dive. Two grandparents died, new baby brother to take care of, step-father left, mother went into severe depression, other brother began using drugs...and so on.

Track was my only outlet. When I ran - I could forget it all. I felt free. I could find peace.

I have since wondered if it was the age and experience, or the running with my heart that made me better.

Probably a combination of both.

But I know I felt better running for the joy than I did running with the drive to win.

That's just me though.

Seven said...

sounds like you have lived a responsible and duty filled life....the masters track web site is in my links column; if you ever get the urge to lay some track behind you, check it out and make your return to the sport!
I run for the Houston Elite Track Club and have a full schedule this year, including probably Penn Relays where 42,ooo plus in the stands can stand your hair on end.

Seven said...

Well, actually I don't even know what standing your hair on end means...I should say it is exciting....;-)

Reach said...

In my early days, my life witnessed competition skating. I was practiced in freestyle ice/roller, hockey ice/roller, and I have even "carved a few bowls" down at the skateboard parks.
Before my chance on the surface, I broke all the rules and watched my competition. I watched to learn. Then, at my chance, I competed against myself.
I viewed this as always winning. Though I have the material objects, that go with placing first, the reward I found came within.
Therefore, I would think option 5 (after reading Grant's submissions) most certainly is the inner focus. Here is one time that 5 = 2.


Seven said...

Mystical math...the searchers best friend!

Aims said...

Yea, I like this. I go to the gym (alright I know - way below your level!!) but I see who goes more than me, who's better than me. This week I felt good for what I achieved myself - I guess a bit like you running & not noticing anyone else?

Seven said...

Precisely, I think it is why they put so many mirrors in the workout we can look at ourselves...hehehe

Rob said...

I'm what they call an M60. I got started again when I was M55. Before that I, well... I ran track in high school and said farewell to it in college. I wasn't good enough, I told myself, to beat the other guys. My perspective now is a lot different. I love to see the same guys and gals show up for the senior games, masters meets, etc. If I don't see them, I loose. We have fun. One week, I'm in front, next they are. The real competition is besting your last performance. If you can beat the field, that's great; but it's only for the moment. Lifting up your friend's spirit and be lifted by theirs is what it's all about. Remember that life is about who shows up.

Seven said...

My friend Courtland Gray once told me that showing up at the starting line in masters track is a triumph in itself.
I hope we end up at the same meet someday. If so, please track me down and say hello. I'll be in Boston for Indoor Nationals and Charlotte for Outdoor Nationals; God willing and the legs stay glued.
God's speed and healthy hamstrings my friend.

a fish on a bycicle said...

I don't know. See Rick, thank you, there's another thing you've made me realise that I don't know.

I play field hockey, have done since I was a teenager. It's something I feel good at without any boast or modesty - I just enjoy it. I relish the skills and the need for fitness...and also the competitive aspect.

I'd like to think that it were possible to enjoy the sport for the sake of the sport, whilst at the same time enjoying the competitive edge too in a good natured way. I'm almost sure that we have a need to compete, it's a driver, and that we need to win and lose as benchmarks towards what we would like to achieve..but be realistic enough to know that we aren't all going to reach the same levels, so enjoy the getting there too.

In any case, I wish you luck in your contest with track!!