Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


What I Think About WHEN I Think About Running

If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that most of the time, I don’t think about running, when I am running. I’ve forwarded the proposition that the more reasons you have to run, and the more that you have to think about while running, the easier it is to stick to running.  Does it follow then that since I run A LOT, a lot of what I think about is not about running?  Possibly.

Some of those thoughts and activities that occupy me or take place on the run include listening to music and audio books, watching television, list-making, photography, shopping, meal-planning and recently, I’ve become adept at checking my Blackberry while running on a treadmill.

The Pain Gain

However faster running, involving effort, discomfort and pain requires that thoughts be focused on running and it is helpful to develop positive mental strategies to deal with these more challenging physical sensations. At the moment, faster running is about 40 minutes out of the roughly 6-7 hours a week I run. A big part of what motivates me to push past the discomfort and pain is the knowledge of the health benefits of intense running. When you exercise at an intensity over the lactate threshold your body produces Exercise-Induced Growth Hormone Response (EIGR) the effect of which is double the benefit of aerobic exercise.

While running hard, I visually imagine EIGR secretions flowing through my body and soothing my joints.  I also think of my heart, pumping vigorously sending blood in strong gushes throughout  my circulatory system, massaging and cleansing my arteries.  While these images may not be sound biology, you get the picture, it is all about the importance of positive images.

Knee Joint Facsimile

My husband has been having knee trouble for nearly two years.   As a joke, I gave him a key chain with a replica of a knee joint.  As time passes, I’m thinking that this rattling, fragile looking knee joint may not inspire confidence in recovery and only lends fuel to the argument that the knee joint is poorly designed and engineered.  Not the best mindset for visual images of healing and health.

The simple practice described in this quote by Jean Houston strikes me as wise, at the gut level. 

“Try to spend a few moments each day holding a picture of your body and your mind in a state of splendid health.”

Hmm, I think this key chain has got to go!


Still running?

What happens when you drop into Starbuck’s and discover that you’ve forgotten the book you are dying to finish?  Happily for me, you run into an old friend of over 25 years with whom you are long overdue to catch up with.  With me, the catching up process usually involves a “Still running?” inquiry and in this instance more than two hours of chatting.

Part of my friend’s news was that recently a car drove into the front of her restaurant at 4:30 a.m. causing a fair bit of damage which included squashing her bike, left parked overnight for one of three times in 11 years.  Monica is the owner of Saving Grace Cafe on Dundas West, as in this review of Toronto restaurant brunch offerings by NOW Magazine.

Saving Grace

907 Dundas W, at Bellwoods, 416-703-7368. Monica Miller’s intentionally anonymous café is always bedlam on weekends. Regulars know to disregard the printed menu and go for the chalkboard specials. Best: devilishly textured corn cakes accompanied by chili-fired mango chutney and greens dressed with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette; waffle du jour with real maple syrup, or very plain scrambled eggs with pumpernickel toast and oven-roasted home fries; French toast with caramelized bananas in maple syrup. Open Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms upstairs. Rating: NNNN patio $$

"Photos of what happened to the front of my restaurant!"

I told her about the Carrot Cake Oatmeal recipe I had blogged about recently and we had a lively discussion of the culinary possibilities of oatmeal. She may test this recipe on her staff as a step towards adding it to her famous brunch menu.

Committed commuter cyclist and chef with her new wheels.

Upon leaving Starbucks, she showed me her replacement bike.  There was a time when I cycled everywhere, all but 6-8 weeks of the year, but Monica has outlasted me in this pursuit by nearly two decades.

On the topic of chance meetings and food; What happens when you forget your key and need a place to hang out, to await rescue?  Across from Starbuck’s is a new restaurant Hadley’s, where I dined in this instance, waiting for my husband to get home from work to let me in.  I sat at the counter and shortly after an old friend, the phys. ed. teacher from my son’s elementary school, sat down beside me.

Portrait of a Great Phys. Ed. Teacher

She told me that has seen me regularly, running in the neighbourhood.  We got to know each other during the years when I coached the school cross-country running team and assisted with the track and field team. She had just come from a school basketball game and modeled the latest version of the school t-shirt.  She was a star basketball player and assistant coach with the University of Toronto Blues and was once a member of the national basketball team. It was good to hear that she is doing some teaching at OISE as she is a wonderful teacher and fabulous role model.

She urged me to have a taste of her appetizer, whitefish on green pea pancakes, an improbable combination which I would never thought of ordering. They were sensational!

Hadley's Whitefish on Green Pea Pancakes

I mentioned the green pea pancakes to Monica and she has such a recipe, which I hope to try. In case you are thinking about checking out Saving Grace, I think they close annually, in February, so call first to confirm. Bon appetit!