Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Mind of a Marathoner


Out at dinner last weekend, a woman found out I was running a marathon and asked the inevitable: "What do you think about all that time?" I never know the answer to that question. During the average long run, there's time to think about lots of stuff, zone out, consider breathing and plan for fueling. But the marathon is different. It's about a high-level of effort for three hours and more. That takes a lot of mental energy. Trying to stay relaxed but not slough off is kinda hard. It gets worse when the shit goes down around mile 20. At that point, the mind races to all sorts of things. I've found that after a marathon, I have the craziest dream sequences: my mind races through all sorts of dreams on fast forward. The interesting thing is the elite runners go through the same stuff as regular marathoners. Ryan Hall, the best U.S. marathoner alive, has a fascinating article about his recent marathon in London, where he ran a 2:05. He talks about taking in the sights -- at a 4:35 pace -- along the way, trying to stay relaxed, wondering if the pace was right, and trying to find his rhythm. His description of the end is fitting -- even the best in the world suffer along with the rest of us mortals.
The fatigue I feel in a marathon is unlike any sensation I have felt. The last couple of miles I felt totally numb. Its like what I picture an out of body experience to be like. My legs don’t feel like they are mine anymore. No matter what I say or how hard I pumped my arms they just kept going at the same rhythm.
Let's hope for the out-of-body experience in Cincy.

5 miles, 36:40

4 comments:

Maureen said...

Brian - I found your blog through a comment you made on my friend Mark's blog. I love reading your posts. I'm running my first marathon on Sunday at the Flying Pig. Good luck on Sunday!

TunaTacoGrande said...

Bo had an out of body experience in Cinci about 10 years ago. I nicknamed her the Cinci-Slammer.

kawika said...

I wish I could have an out-of-body experience during the last few miles of a marathon. That's when I need one the most. I've got two chances this year, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, to qualify for Boston next year. Trimming nine minutes from my time seems like a dream when I start thinking about all my in-body experiences.

Brian Morrissey said...

Maureen,
Best of luck on Sunday. I hope it stays cool.

TTG: more 411, please.

Kawika: I also fear my legs won't go numb on Sunday but just throb and want to stop. Hope you get your BQ.