Sunday, 4 December 2011

Running as a global experience

Why do we run ? According to my experience, we run to flee (from an aggressor or from our anxiety), to hunt (a bus when we are late or a deer when we are hungry), to play (with our friends on Saturday morning). 

What do we do when we flee, hunt and play ? We don't just lift our legs one after the other. When we run after the bus, we use our eyes to check where it is and where it can stop. When we flee from an aggressor, we use our ears to listen to his pace, to check if he is far or close; and when we flee from anxiety, we enjoy the feeling of the wind on our face or the inner feeling of wellness. When we run with others in trails with uneven ground, we use the sensation of our feet to adjust our posture and pace, we use our ears to check that our friends are still with us and our eyes to see if they are ok and having fun. (Photo: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), in a chase scene, his eyes fixed on the target, Bourne Ultimatum.)

Running is a global experience. With the feelings on my skin, I know the quality of the air; with the feelings on my feet, I know what is right under my feet where I stand. With my eyes I know what is just in front of me. With my nose, I know what I can't see, what is behind the next bush. With my ears, I know how things move in any direction, especially what is behind me and on my sides. The touch for the present and where I stand; the hearing for the past and what is behind me and on my sides; the view for the short-term future and what is right in front of us; the smell/ taste for the long-term future and what is far ahead.

Being mindful of my sensory system helped me to get rid of pressure of performance, and improved my technique and posture. Indeed I think we have this finely atune and precise global sensory system for one and only one thing: to adapt, to adjust to our environment. It's not our will or desires that shape our behavior, but the interaction between our capacities and the environment. It's not a pair of shoes with flying wings that dictates if I can run fast everywhere, but how my body can react to my environment with its capacities. If you start thinking about how it hurts to run on sharp rocks, and start thinking about the reason behind this kind of pain (I mean ache not suffering), you begin to realize that your sensory system is not just bothering you and preventing you to achieve your PR, but telling you how to adjust to your environment with the capacities you have. The interaction between the environment and our capacities show us how we can adapt to the features of our environment with efficiency and safety. (Consequence: don't mess with things that alter your sensory system and your brain chemistry, or seclude your sensory system from its environment.)

Why not standing still before running instead of rushing into things without anticipation ? Why not paying attention to this mechanism to know ourselves and our environment during a physical effort, instead of disregarding what we can do and where we are ? Why not unplugging the mp3 and paying attention in running to the functionning of our sensory system? Our capacities might be sharpened. Why not smelling the air to see what kind of plants, flower or ground is ahead, seeing what kind of obstacles and challenge are in front, listening to what can come from any sides? It might be useful.

1 comment:

Mathieu said...

Bonjour Nicolas,
Je ne sais pas si tu auras ce message. Je pars en octobre à Londres pour suivre un stage Movnat et j'aurai aimer évoquer la pratique et le paléo-fitness plus largement avec toi. Mathieu (