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Mindworm — Gunner Shaw 2010(Jericho)

4 December, 2010

A mindworm is what I call the kind of negative, self-defeating thought that burrows its way before the spotlight of your attention at critical moments. Left unchecked, it wriggles its way through well-worn tunnels, displacing more useful or neutral thoughts, undermining the brain in its service to the greater whole of our being.

Normally, I don’t write about these kind of mental bugaboos, or I describe them only in conjunction with their antidote, the mental “bird” that’s up early enough to catch the worm when it rears it ugly head at the surface of consciousness. Otherwise, to do so would only reinforce their position and the power they potentially have. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for the runner. This time, I’m having a hard time identifying the bird that will take out the worm. This mindworm was ‘triggered’ by Tim Noakes (not that he referred to it as such), in his interview with Marathon Talk this week (episode 47), as he described the possibility of the mind subconsciously compromising performance after having previously made a maximal, life-threatening challenge to the central governor (for example, Dick Beardsley saying that he was never able to run as hard again as he did in the ‘Duel in the Sun’).

At the moment, I find it hard to believe that I will ever be able to push myself as hard as I did during either the Longest Day this year, or the Victoria 8k. Having said that, I definitely believe I still have gains in fitness to come. Also, in neither of those races mentioned did I end up collapsing, nor even having to lie down, so perhaps there is still some space to grow there. Finally, even when we’re “fully grown”, it is still possible to constantly remake ourselves, if we have the courage to recognize that necessity, and physically our bodies (and even brains) are constantly rebuilding themselves anyway.

Does this constitute a “bird”? It seems a rather unwieldy tripartition, perhaps an insect. Will it fly? Is it big enough to catch the worm? We’ll see. In the meantime, if anyone reading this had already figured out a more elegant solution, then please let me know! Sometimes a piece of research will come along that instantly devours such concerns.

My race today was not especially fast for a 10k. I was expecting to come a lot closer to 36 minutes. Running on sand didn’t seem any easier than this time last year, and I probably went out a little fast again (my second lap was at least a minute, possibly 80s slower than my first), and probably caused my ankle to tighten up a little. I also felt a new tweak in a left gluteal muscle, which isn’t good. It’s possible, also, that I’m just not very sharp, especially given the tempo run I did on Tuesday (I would not do that so near to a big race) and this might also account for the self-doubt that I prefaced this with.

It’s a fun course anyway. I kind of enjoy the argie-bargie in the first few hundred metres of cross-country races — even if it means the occasional elbow to the throat — and it’s nice to see all the clubs come  together for some competition (even though my club didn’t fare all that well either). There was some good competition too, though I really only had one immediate competitor in each lap. A second place in my age-group to the overall winner.

Yesterday: 0km.

Today: 14km.

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