CCM: Take a Deep Breath

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#)

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