Just got back from my best run yet :D.
On monday I ran my loop at a slow pace, deliberately trying to keep my heart rate down. I’ve been setting-off too fast and this was an experiment in going out slow. In total I
ran jogged for 41-minutes at 13′ pace. It was hot and humid and at the end I felt surprisingly tired, but that is the longest I’ve ever run for, and the most calorie-burning exercise I’ve done since starting (800+, apparently).
Today I wanted to pick up the pace a little. I set my Garmin partner to 12′ pace but quickly settled into 11’30”. Things felt normal at halfway (lap 3 of 6) and I was readying myself for the onset of fatigue, but it never showed up. Something awesome then started happening: I “zoned out” and I forgot that I was running. It was like when you’re on a long drive, you don’t concentrate on “driving” the whole time and your mind wanders on to other things, like talking with someone, listening to the radio or just thinking about stuff. Up until that point, whenever I’ve run my mind was focused on the running: posture, pace, breathing, rhythm, foot-strike, the burn, sweating, “just keep moving”. All of a sudden that stuff faded away and I started thinking about a new blog I’m going to start; what theme shall I use? Maybe Tumblr instead of WordPress; shall I share it with my family/friends/colleagues this time? Woah – I’m still running! I finished the laps with my head up and back straight, trotting along with a big grin on my face (3.5 miles total in almost exactly 11’30” splits). I felt great.
Getting into that zone reminded me of Cs√≠kszentmih√°lyi’s “flow“. When I get into a state of flow at work I can do hours and hours programming, but when I finish it feels like just a couple. This was a different feeling, but I’m sure it must be a related phenomena. I checked that wikipedia page again and there was actually a bit on flow in sports. This quote wasn’t quite the level I experienced, but I thought it was an awesome and worth sharing:-
The Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, who during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix explained: “I was already on pole, […] and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my team mate with the same car. And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel.”