Jan 21, 2020 – Panic
I guess real winter weather was bound to arrive at some point. So bundle up and here we go!
What I was thinking about this week: a new take on the mind/body connection. I was doing a tempo workout with some ladiess last weekend. The workout was 30-35 minutes. A few of the ladies are considerably faster than me. However, I held on to them until 32 minutes. Then it was all too intense and I just let go. I had made it into the prescribed window and did not hold on for the last three minutes. One of the lead runners and I were chatting afterwards on our cool down. She is not only faster than me but also much younger, however she is way more experienced with running and racing hard at a high level. She said to me “You just have to convince yourself not to panic. You have to tell yourself you’re fine and just keep going”. Had I panicked? Is that why I let go?
Here’s another interesting fact which I learned from The Passion Paradox. (I’d heard about it before but had forgotten it). We have not one, but two brains: a left brain and a right brain. The left side is rational, analytical and data driven. The right side is creative, emotional and a story teller. These two essentially different parts of ourselves are communicating all the time via the corpus callosum (a thick band of neurons). However, when it is severed, our two brains stop communicating. Researchers have experimented with patients in these circumstances and found remarkable things. If only the left eye (which communicates with the right brain) is shown a card with a command (for example, walk, draw, drink water), the person will do that thing. However, their right brain can’t explain or rationalize, it can only direct actions and create stories. So when asked why they are doing the action written on the card, the patients come up with a plausible reason. “I need to stretch my legs, I feel like doodling, I’m thirsty”. They are unaware that they are following a command. The same pattern holds when they are shown a traumatic image to their left eye. They suddenly become sad, but make up all kinds of stories as to why they are sad. They do not rationally know that their brain has picked up on the sad image. This is much of what makes us human: our brains are always making up narratives to make sense of our world and our feelings – whether they are “true” or not.
So back to me and “panicking” while running hard. Maybe my wise young friend was onto something. Was my brain interpreting my current state like this: “You’re running basically at the brink of your capacity, you’re breathing hard, your muscles are straining, you’re moving fast … you must be in danger!” Was my story telling brain trying to make sense of my situation and giving me a narrative which I then followed? Panic! Pull the chute! Emergency brake! What I needed to do was pull my left brain online to talk down my emotional brain. “You’re fine. You’re running hard but you’re not in danger. Your heart, lungs and muscles are completely fine and it’s good for them to work this hard”. My two brains are connected and I should be able to get the message of rationality across.
So I will work on this. Apparently self-awareness is the first step. First, understand what’s happening, then you can start trying to address it.
Let’s try this tomorrow on hills!
Here’s an idea: let’s do the long and short ones, but in a different sequence. So we’ll do as many full hills as we think we can do while leaving some space/energy at the end for some short (half) hills. I won’t tell you how many of each to do – read yourselves. I’m thinking I’ll aim for something like 6 and 4. If you under-shoot your long hills, do more short hills. If you over-spend on the long hills don’t do as many short.
See you guys in the a.m.!