intention is nine tenths of the run

i’m still running. but for some reason i’m really struggling with it at the moment. the hills are a psychological barrier i haven’t found a way to dismantle. i’m pretty sure the key to overcoming the hill-phobia is some mix of intention, a lack of attachment and warming up – physically and mentally. but for the moment i’m a bit stuck in a cycle of waiting – waiting to be *in* the run.

the evening before i run i encourage a feeling of anticipation, and imagine the joy of running uphill with ease. i see myself, feet barely touching the ground, head up, moving apace, breathing at a resting pace. flowing. i guess it’s called something like “setting intention”. or delusion. in the morning i try to keep that feeling alive. delusion will get me there as expediently as good intention.

this is what happens. i wake at 6.43. i lie around, promising myself i’ll be on the road no later than 7. i shoe-up, a sense of anxiety threatening to obliterate my happy delusion. off i go anyway, turn right out the gate and start the uphill grind, which is only 1 km, but it’s a hard 1km to do cold. there’s no rhythm to this part-only a stumble, tightness, ragged breathing, a deep immersion in the materiality of the body and the run, and a wish for all this to resolve into the flow i conjured the evening before. the flow where the stiffness lets go, my legs are released from the vice-grip of stiffness and my mind (yes, this is the point) is freed to do whatever it is that the mind does at this point. and that is usually something to do with thinking and thought.  i just don’t quite get there, however. the downhills are not much in the way of respite, since they are pretty steep and i really really need to take care. again, a concentration on the materiality of the body.

i’ve been looking at ways to address this. material strategies, because i think the problem is *in* my body. i mean i think things like ” i need more magnesium”, because i’m prone to cramps. or i think “i need to hydrate more consciously” or, “i need to eat before i run” or, “i need to not eat before i run”. and so on.  mostly i thought it was a problem of warming up, so i’ve been doing a 2km walk down and uphill before i run, as a way to stretch and warm. i lunge, i do my knees-up, i flex and point. i take in the stunning nature, i listen to the creek. the 2km takes me left out the gates, down past the osho place, to the causeway at barratt’s farm and up to the little local community school. and back. to the starting point. and i begin the run.

needless to say, the uphill slog is just as hard as it was before. maybe that’s just the way it is, you know. i’ve read so many advice blogs about uphill running. it’s the nemesis of the runner. it requires you to go against gravity with repetitive short strides and uses great muscle strength and endurance. the last blog i read advised 3 mental strategies: “gun to the head”, “absolutely no stopping” and “be somewhere else”. woah. ok. i get that it’s probably as much a mental as a physical problem, but “gun to the head”? and detachment has its own set of problems, since where else would i be?

so here i am, somewhat stuck, but resolved to go on. and on. and on.

it also puts me in a mind of some musings (which i would probably resolve on my runs if i ever reached the nirvana state of “musing”).

i wonder how much of this uphill battle is connected to my ongoing struggle with functionality on the daily. the struggle to rise, eat, write, commune with others and so on. certainly not-running is a barometer of existential struggle and i would venture to say that running raggedly is a reflection of the raggedy nature of my writing, the other uphill battle. and that if i suddenly find myself in a place where running is an ecstatic, authentic flow perhaps my writer’s block will follow suit. i feel like my stuttering, stumbling cognitive struggles all reside in my stride. as i sit in front of my screen trying desperately to make connections between my shape-shifting research explorations and the canon of critical thought through which i’m supposed to frame my work, i feel like all cognitive function seeps down into my legs and makes for heavy going on all fronts.

i mentioned heidegger in an earlier post, and his idea of handlability. i am applying this idea to my research methodology, in terms of a focus on the praxical over the theoretical. a bottom-up approach to knowing, a use-based experience from which emerges knowing, or theory. revelation from immersion in an experience or thing. using an object to know its nature instead of reading the manual and assuming that is tantamount to “knowing” it. connected to this are also ideas of the ontic and the ontological, which distinction is difficult and probably spurious, if truth be known. the ontic being related to that which can be “reckoned” about an object or experience or event. reduced to a numbers outcome, or a quantative result. the ontological being related to the participatory or experiential study of the being of any thing.

anyway, i’m struggling with the relational aspect of these ideas. in fact i wrote that last paragraph much more easily than i wrote the last paragraph of my exegesis. in fact, i write this blog with an ease i covet for my other writing self. coveting oneself is surely a low point in the writing of a thesis.

so, yes, as i said, i’m struggling with making the relationships between these ideas and my own writing explicit. and here i see a connection between the heideggerian idea of handlability and my run. i think the distinction is between the idea of the run with all its flaws as an experience, or as a tool which is quantitatively designed to have an outcome of “fitness” or “marathon-ready”. i think the phenomenological experiences i have with the run (which at the moment are around pain, struggle, continuing) are really important to just *be* with. in fact the struggles are way to revelatory insights about the nature of being. about the nature of being a run/runner or being a creative expression/writer. i’m as much the run as the runner of the run. as much the exegesis as the writer of the exegesis.

so rather than struggling to overcome the physical and psychological obstacles of the hills perhaps the way forward is to just accept that hills have inherent characteristics and learn to know them through the experience of pain and struggle. stop waiting to be in this run. the run is here, and i just take it as it comes, all stiff vernacular, dodgy ideas, lack of flow and rhythm. i might not be a marathon runner. training is not my methodology and i’m in this for something other than fitness.



2 responses to “intention is nine tenths of the run

  1. Now that you have me into this thing. The only thing that gets me over than mountain some days is the promise of something at the end, a treat!

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