Back to the strength training today after a week away. Today’s workout was a little harder than usual after the break, but that’s a one-time thing (until the next time I skip a session or two).
Marathon running isn’t just a physical act. My mind and body work together to get me to the finish line. So physical weaknesses aren’t the only ones I need to address while I’m training for a marathon. I also need to get my brain in tune if I want to be in top shape.
One problem I have is that I tend to get a little too wound up, especially before an important race. That affects my sleep. When I toss and turn all night, it’s hard to get up and run well the next day.
I can take pills to help me sleep. Many people find that the antihistamine Benadryl works well enough for them. I seem to need something a little stronger and sometimes that leaves me feeling a little fuzzy the next day. Anyhow, even if the sleeping pills successfully knock me out, a good, natural night’s sleep is always better.
Ideally, I could somehow learn how to relax. And as the Beatles taught us back in the 60’s, that’s what meditation is for.
After 20 minutes of lying down behind a closed door (to keep the cats out), listening to a guided meditation on my iPhone, I usually feel refreshed and more alert. With practice, I can call that feeling back at night. A few deep breaths to help quiet the thoughts spinning in my head and I can drop off to sleep. If I wake up in the middle of the night, the same tools make me less likely to spend an hour tossing and turning before I get back to sleep.
It’s simple, and it seems like works. But if I don’t keep up with the meditation during the day, I lose whatever it is that help me sleep at night. And for some reason I find it remarkably hard to put aside those 20 minutes to lie down and relax. I’m not sure why.
I don’t have a problem with taking 20 minutes (or more) for a nap when I’m tired, so it’s not just a matter of ”wasting time”. Part of it might be that whether you call it meditation, auto-suggestion, self-hypnosis, affirmations, or something else, it just seems too easy. I know I can talk myself into getting all wound up about something. Is it really that hard to believe that it can work the other way? That I can talk myself into relaxing? If I agree with the soft voice in my ears that tells me,“ Your eyelids are heavy. You can’t lift them,” then it becomes true. All I have to do is submit to the voice and choose to go along with what it tells me, even though it contradicts what I “know”. Of course, if I wanted to I could lift my eyelids. My agreement is an essential part of the process.
I can’t explain why it works. Maybe that’s what makes it hard for me to do. But I don’t have to understand. Like the ad says, “Just do it”. It’ll be the least sweaty part of my training.
Maybe Nike should sell meditation tapes?
I just got back from puppet class. The 3-mile round trip via bike to the subway station goes into the log for today along with the strength training. It’s a small thing, but if I include it I get to enjoy a slightly bigger number at the end of the week, and that also helps with the mental side of training. And a sighting on the way home made today a bunny day.
(strength, 3 mi. bike; 147.5#)