running feet

running feet
Running feet. These aren't mine.

Friday, 6 May 2011

On challenges and competition

So the A-Z challenge is over. It was fun, and certainly a challenge, and I'm both happy to have done it and fairly happy I'm not forcing myself to blog every night anymore. Running today was both liberating and a bit odd at first though, as the lack of a pre-defined framework for my thoughts (in the guise of an arbitrary letter for that day) left me momentarily blank. It's very strange how you get used to letting external structures help define how you think.

Anyway, the run was very nice in the sunshine, and I ended up wondering about the nature of challenging oneself generally. I've recently found my heart-rate monitor, so I've now (should I wish, I haven't actually bothered yet) got a way of comparing my running now with past ones when I was in better shape. I'm also thinking of doing Bristol half-marathon later in the year to help keep me motivated (again, letting more external structures define what I'm doing and thinking), and there's quite a bit of me that worries that I won't be able to do it anywhere near as quickly as I did before (I'm three years older and have another child this time around) and I'll end up being disappointed because I ran it slower.

Which struck me as I ran as a really strange thing to worry about. I enjoy running, I enjoy training, I enjoy the experience of a 'big race' - and whether I come 1,000th or 2,000th or 3,000th in the final race will make absolutely no difference to my life at all in any way. So what possible problem would there be if (or when) I run it a bit slower than last time?

And yet there's something deeply ingrained in the human psyche (or at least this human's psyche) that makes us want to compete and challenge ourselves to do it faster, better, harder, whatever. It's probably the reason I decided upon blogging a different letter of the alphabet every day - just to see whether I could.

Ultimately I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing that we are so ready to challenge ourselves in such arbitrary ways. But I do know it's very odd.

Running log

Distance: 3 miles
Pace: 8:45 minute miles
Location: St Werbergs, Bristol