Balance and perceived effort

5 January

It had been long, hot day at my desk in the garret,  and it was still about 30 degrees after six o’clock, which didn’t much inspire one for much running activity. I finally headed out quite late, at about 7:30. And, bizarrely, I felt amazing! The run started with my thighs voicing some strong protest, and I thought, ‘Ugh! Enough of this! Am I running on sore thighs forever?’ And then I just speeded up and felt great. Told myself that what I’m feeling is only perceived effort, and that my body was feeling nothing. It’s all in the mind. the body feels nothing! It was the best run I had had in many weeks. The air was cool and the festive atmosphere on the Promenade somehow added a bounce to my step. Thousands of people were out there with their kids, their lovers, their families, picnicking, walking and generally taking in one of the last glorious summer evenings of the school holidays.

I felt so much faster weaving between the strollers and exercise walkers. And I thought, ‘They’re walking. I’m running. I’m a runner. I’m a runner!’ It’s got to make you grin a little!

My usual 6:30/km pace picked up to under 6:00/km, and I managed a 5:32/km at 5 km. No, still not Usain Bolt, but a significant improvement on the disheartening plodding of the past weeks and months.

And the sunset was just glorious. I had intended going only for a 5 km run, the distance based largely on said hot, sticky, tiring day, and … ehm … probably on a bit of laziness. But I felt goood. So I thought I would do eight instead.

But I couldn’t resist the view over the tidal pool and so I ran down the ramp and onto the beach. I can’t remember when last I had been on that beach! And it’s right on my doorstep, or just about. I walked onto the wall of the tidal pool and snapped a few cell phone pics before taking a walk along the beach to pick up some bottle caps.Today’s three things was 10 bottle caps. My small contribution to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

And then I took an easy run back towards home. Just as my Garmin beeped 8 km, I spotted a guy walking on the steel railing. I was going to carry on running, make it 10 km, but I couldn’t run past this guy.

He was wearing some thick-soled lace-up shoes and walking on the smooth, slippery steel railing, with the relative safety of the Promenade paving on his left and the treacherous drop onto the rocks on his right. And he was doing quite a bit of slipping and righting of himself – it wasn’t as if he was displaying perfect, awe-inspiring balance. He left you fearing for his life. So I stopped, turned around and took some pics of him.

And I thought again of perceived effort. His perception of the effort involved in what he was doing was clearly very different to mine. I saw pain and death. He saw a manageable challenge. And so he was doing the balancing act and I was taking the photos.

I hope he did eventually get down on the Promenade side of the railing.

And I hope I can show that kind of focus and acceptance of possible  (inevitable) pain on my next long run.

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2 thoughts on “Balance and perceived effort

  1. Effortless effort takes effort. It’s amazing how the run sort of explodes out of you one fine day after seemingly days of no progress. So identify with the feeling. Been a little unmotivated to run and have been procrastinating getting out. Your post and wonderful pictures make me want to get out. Thank you for sharing.

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