Thursday, January 20, 2011

Motivation and the Pulse Button

I have a question for you.

There is a time when we get tested.  We've all had them.  Physics exam in University.  Attending a sports team try-out in high-school.  Lifting a boiling-hot dragon-emblazoned cauldron with your writs.  If we are prepared well, these events are less stressful times than when we are not prepared.

When I was actually blending a shake in high-school about 30 years ago, I wondered what that pulse button was on the blender.  I noticed the blender went cookoo for cocoa-puffs every time I pushed it: the counter would shake, the potted herbs on the window sill would rock back and forth.  And the shake would come out extra frothy.  I liked extra frothy.  So I blended with that button pushed in manually every time!

The blender broke.  It couldn't handle the stress.

The real purpose of the pulse button was to mix up the routine of blending and to break a log-jam in the activity. Press it for a second or two, have the stuck stuff drop into the blades and then let it blend as normal, then release the pulse button.

I think as runners we have a pulse button as well.  I reach for mine when I have to run negative split intervals and I have about 1/2 mile to go in my workout.  Or when the workout changes from 400x track repeats to 800x track repeats and my body is telling me at 401m, "Hey, we're supposed to slow down now buddy."

I've been looking at what wakes me up to deliver: I've been creating images in my mind of different situations:

  1. running for fear of my life
  2. running to save someone's life
  3. running to show someone that their opinion doesn't count
  4. running to feel like being strong, muscular and healthy
  5. running in the zone

The jury is still out on this, but appealing to the emotions involved in the first 3 doesn't work to motivate me.  What I do see is that moving out of the social/judgmental/intellectual state of mind into an animal/instinctual zone seems to be more effective.

But the amazing conclusion I have in my running is that whenever the "mind" gets involved, I run poorly.  When my mind steps out of the way and just I just am, I run better.

Do you have a pulse button and what is it?


Georgia Snail said...

My "pulse" button happened last night on my run through the 'hood....Here's a quick play-by-play

"Hmm, sounds like a dog barking ahead. Yup, there is a dog in the yard. Wait, there is no fence! Hey, that dog is headed right for me! What?!?!? The dog is chasing me! Run faster!"

HR went from 134 to 171 in about 3 seconds...

Matty O said...

my running motivation is purely mental. Its my way of venting and balancing out my life.

I pen stuff up for weeks and then when I have a hard workout, I open the flood gates and leave it all out on the trails.

Works for me.

KovasP said...

Are you comparing yourself to a broken blender or the frothy shake?

My motivation is purely to be not as fat as I recently was. What gets me out there varies each day and to me it doesn't matter as long as I do get out there.

Teamarcia said...

I never knew what that pulse button was for.

Bob said...

Whenever the mind gets involved .... Yeah, that's my problem. I agree 100%. Thanks for clarifying.

Neil Zee said...

I think getting the mind involved for the RIGHT reasons is a good thing. Figure out what really motivates you (Like REALLY motivates you) and you'll be able to put your mind to work for yourself. My mind is a powerful ally at the end of a hard run becuase it can tell my body to do anything. As long as you understand that your body is a slave to your mind, you can do amazing things!

Good luck!

Adrienne said...

My mind is my downfall. My body can do more than I think but I am weak in the mind---ugghhh I that too!

Anyway, when my mind starts getting in the way I have to look down just a few feet in front of my feet and just get rhythmic about my run. One two, one two one two etc.

Anonymous said...

hmm. honestly, i've been running for so long, i couldn't tell you. it's just part of my world, though i don't run as often as i used to. i've cut way back.

Shawn said...

Some people would say I have that vacant look on my face no matter whether I'm running or not.

I just keep telling myself get past the first 1/2 hr of creaks and groans and I can go forever...and beer on the weekend as a reward helps too!!

Nej said...

I either need to get my body and mind to start agreeing....or just learn to shut out my brain all-together. My brain is definitely the weak link on most runs. :-)

Fruit Fly said...

As I so painfully learned last Sunday, my mind is my biggest running enemy. If I can just zone out and enjoy what is going on I do so much better. But once I think about anything - my pace, any little pain, feeling tired, thirsty, passersby, anything! - my mind gives out and I struggle. I'm finding now that for longer runs I like having a podcast or book to listen to. I start concentrating on that and the time just flies by!

Jennifer said...

Mexican food is my pulse button. Works every time.

Johann said...

Good post! I love running with my mind. I can get in a zone where I can carry on strong for ever, no matter how tough the route gets.

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Great post ... I find I can't "check out" like a lot of runners do and just let it go. I have to focus on every footstep and my splits, or I coast and don't get it done. I wish I could leave more of the mental game out of it, but I can't. PS, I totally stole your race countdown widget - I liked it better than mine ... sorry/thanks.

Elizabeth said...

Am not sure what my pulse button is exactly but living with non runners sometimes put a pulse in my runs and I am learning to say, am doing it for me, take it or leave it.

Also the big dog that chased me on Sunday got my pulse up

The Green Girl said...

My ultimate pulse button would be my niece - I think I could do anything if I had to for my niece.

On a more general day-to-day level, perhaps food? I'm very food driven.

Ewa said...

My mind has a mind of its own. Come to think about it, so does my body. Somehow I often get left out of the picture.

Caratunk Girl said...

I run best when there is either nothing in my head (not sure how that makes me sound) or if I am really feeling upset or passionate about something that has happened recently.