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Monday, September 6, 2010

When Did That Happen? My Narcissistic Treadmill Trance.

As I rolled over this morning and peered at the time on the clock radio I was already thinking about having to go for a run. It was a must because I set myself a goal of 60km for the week and I was approximately 20km shy of the target. It had been a long day of flying and we arrived into Ottawa late at night, or more accurately early in the morning so my desire to roll out of bed, change, and run was missing. I laid in bed for 5 minutes before deciding that what I needed was a triple shot Americano and an oatmeal. Decision made I hopped into the shower and got ready to face the day. With my oatmeal in my belly and the Americano in my hand I headed past the Parliament buildings towards the market. I purchased farm fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries….oh so delicious.

On my way back to the Radisson I noted that Chapters was open and decided to wander into the store. If you sense a bit of procrastination in this story you would be correct in your astute observation. The problem is that I love books and I could spend hours in a bookstore. Thankfully I only spent one hour and no money, a rare feat for me.

 After I made it to my room I was resolved to go for a run and feeling revived and ready to attempt my first 20km in over a month. I changed and headed for parking garage level one. No, I had no intention of running around a parkade but for some strange reason that is where the fitness room is in the hotel. No one was using the facilities so as I had my choice of the two treadmills. One faced the wall with a full length mirror the other faced the opposite wall with a full length mirror. The second one had an air conditioning unit, which I know does not work, on the upper part of the mirror but it has a functioning fan beside the treadmill. That was the deciding factor. I stepped on the treadmill, picked my playlist on my iPhone, turned on my Bose quiet comfort 15, started the treadmill, my nikeband and watch. It was time for action. I was a little daunted about the prospect of running a 20km, never mind running it on a treadmill.

 As I began to run I remembered what Christoper Bergland said about a trance like state when he runs. Mouth slightly open, head moving side to side, and tongue sticking out slightly can induce a trance like state. I gave it a go. I found myself thinking, “is my throat going to get dry with my mouth open? Is my tongue out enough? Is is the natural motion from jogging that moves your head or do you have to make it move more?” Needless to say all of that inner chatter wasn’t going to make my trance state appear very fast if at all. So I turned up the volume a little and tried to think of other tips he has in his book The Athlete’s Way. Ah, bingo there was a mention of fixating on a light on the treadmill to help the zoning out process, perfect. I looked at a piece of the air conditioning unit, took off my glasses, all the while running, to induce my trance.

As I ran and fixated I looked in the mirror and thought ‘When did that happen?’ The top of my head, from the nose up, was chopped off by the a.c unit, so when I looked in the mirror I saw from the nose down. I looked at the person in the mirror, and all though I knew it was me my brain seemed to be removed from the process. The body was moving, and the mind was observing. Is that me? I looked at the tanned toned arms, the sweat glistening on my skin, the slimmer waist and hips, and the lean leg muscles. I was dissecting my body. Yet it didn’t feel like that was me because my body was moving without any participation from my brain. At least conscious participation. I looked at my tapped knee, my Nike Air Pegasus 27 Trail runners, running skirt, my iPhone attached to my arm, and my running tank so it was definitely me moving. With that verified I went back to wondering when did that happen. I know friends and family commented on me loosing weight and looking good. But it happened so subtly that I never quite noticed. There were changes, my pants didn’t fit me anymore so I had to go purchase three new pants and a pair of shorts for summer. The new shorts became to big, and the jeans that I purchased in Montreal three months ago seemed to be getting a little to big.

 That was confirmed last week when I put on my newly washed and hung to dry jeans, no dryer for I did not want them to shrink. When I pulled the jeans over my hips I went to do up the zipper and button….ah, weird the zipper was already zipped. I thought I was loosing my marbles, there is no way that they went over my hips zipped up! So I did an empirical test, yep I pulled my pants down over my hips with the zipper still zipped. ACK! Good thing I am not 8 years old because I could be in trouble. My nephews, both 8 years old, have been going through a spell of pulling down each other’s pants in public. Sneak up behind the other boy and surprise. Needless to say if I were 8yrs old I would start wearing a belt.

 I knew my body was changing, but the only mirror I own is the one attached to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. No real opportunity to see myself head to toe in a mirror to see how my clothes were fitting. As I focused on the body in the mirror and remembering about any changes that happened and figuring out when they may have happened the treadmill began to slow down. Oh what a pain in my butt, dumb treadmill. I looked down at the control panel and realized an hour had passed by and it was starting the 5 minute cool down period. Holy Moly, how did that happen? So I sped up the treadmill because I didn’t want to cool down. ACK, dumb treadmill has stopped. Oops, 5 minutes is up, make that one hour and 5 minutes with 6.27miles. It dawned on me that there might be something to this trance thing, I fiddled with the controls to get the treadmill going before I started thinking about running. Away I went. I peered into the mirror and started my narcissistic treadmill trance (NTT). If obsessing about the body in the mirror got me through the first 10km without realizing it, I was going to keep on focusing on me.

 Over the next 5 km I thought about writing this blog, revising it, and all the while looking at the jogger in the mirror. Before I knew it, the 5km disappeared effortlessly. Sweet. 15km down only 5km to go :) Then I goofed, I decided to slow down the treadmill. I had been running for 15km so I figured I should drink some water and walk for a minute. After a minute and a half I sped up the treadmill. OOPS, I took too long the trance was broken, my legs and back protested as I began to run. Although I didn’t get my NT T state back it wasn’t until the last km that I was feeling ready to get off the treadmill, but with the knowledge that I only had 1 km left I kept going. There was no way I was going to stop short of my goal, especially by one measly kilometer.

 I smiled as I stepped off the treadmill because I tested the trance state idea and was victorious. The key for me was not fixating on a red light, but on thinking about something other than the running process. This time it was all about me, next time I will focus on another topic. One thing is definite, I now have a new tool in my running tool box!



I have come to the realization that motivation is a daily endeavor. After the Canadian Death Race I took the month of August to relax and heal my body, mind, and spirit. As the end of August approaches I find myself trying to find out what to do, where to find the motivation to do what I have set out to do, and actually going out and doing it. September 01, 2010 is the begining of the end of my training vacation. I find myself wondering “how?” How to start. How to continue. How to keep on going. I also wonder ‘why?’ Why I am doing this? What do I want to accomplish? To assist me I started reading “The Athlete’s Way,” by Christopher Bergland. I read it last year, well at least the first 3/4s of the book. Just as I did then I find it very interesting, it is an easy read, informative, and full of wonderful ideas and quotes. So as September has now begun, I am embracing his suggestions of writing a log for the next 56 days tracking distance, exertion, insights, how I felt before/during/and after the exercise. The thing I really appreciate is that he is an elite endurance athlete and yet his definition of an athlete encompasses so many ‘regular’people. His definition, “Anyone who exercises regularly with intent.” He further states that ‘”The Athlete’s Way’ is the process by which you go about doing what you do.” I am also going to test out his idea of going into a trance state when you run. He acheives his by opening his mouth, having his tongue stick out a bit and with the motion of his head moving back and forth he is able to enter a trance and the running becomes effortless. Hmmm, effortless I like the sound of that!! If you have not read the book, I highly recommend it as reading material. His topics encompass who he is, what he has accomplished, the science of sport, positive psychology, a training program, nutrition, stretching, etc. Maybe he is such an inspiration because he seems like an every day individual that overcame substance abuse to win the Triple IronMan three times, and yet considers everyone who “exercises with intent” as an athlete. That makes me feel like I can be part of an amazing community and able to accomplish anything that I choose to accomplish. Which is truly amazing