The Circular Mind/Body Question                                                Copyright Dennis Mitton

Here’s a frustrating experience that reminds me of how much our mind and thoughts dictate our feelings. And how those feelings influence our body. And vice versa. In a circle.


Every two months I run a mile for time. It’s a way that I keep track of my general fitness and of improvements. My goal for last Saturday was to break eigth minutes. I did it in 8:16 in October and thought the eight-minute mark was achievable and would be something to be happy about. And for anyone thinking that an eight minute mile is either amazingly fast or agonizingly slow remember that it’s all relative. Fitness is about becoming a better you, not about being better than he is or she is.

It was bloody cold for us sissy South Carolinians and I was wearing gloves which means that I can’t manipulate my iPhone. I made a decision to start the timer and then, when it hit the one minute mark, start running. I ran the first lap out of four and looked at the timer which read 2:30. 2:30! That’s a bleeding ten-minute mile. Son of a bitch! How in the hell was I running slower than I was two months ago? I cannot tell you how fast my legs turned to lead. Heck, my whole body turned to lead. In about three steps, I weighed three hundred pounds and any energy I had just leaked out all over the track and I felt like a Horta from Star Trek. I slowed and stopped and just about threw away my running shoes. Then – probably when my brain got a little oxygen – I remembered that I started at the one minute mark. How could I have forgotten in one lap around the track? Sheesh. I ran a 1:30 400 meter – a six-minute mile if I kept my pace (I wouldn’t have but I might have pushed against seven minutes). I didn’t know whether I should feel stupid or embarrassed so I wallowed in both for a while. Then I decided to run a mile anyway. I walked around the track twice to regain some energy and did a mile in 7:58. Made my goal but without much satisfaction.

Later, I thought about the entire incident. How my mental mistake drove the feelings of my mind and body truly surprised me. I was running hard and feeling strong until I looked at my timer. Within steps, I felt like an obese, shuffling eighty-year-old. And how could I have so quickly forgotten that I started at the minute mark and not the zero? Was running stealing oxygen from my brain and using it for my body? In what other stress situations should I not trust my thinking or memory? And what about the speed? For me, a six-minute mile is fast. Was I putting an unnecessary limit on myself hoping to break eight minutes? In what other ways do I limit myself? All good stuff for further thinking.

Cheers!


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