Running makes you good at Math

Running makes you good at Math

I’m somewhat of an analytical person.  I use Math in my job, so I’m geeky in that way.  But if you approach any runner or “wanna-be runner”, you will quickly see that their math skills have strengthened along with their leg muscles.  Oh yea.  Test it out.  Any runner can do a percentage (%) calculation faster than lightning.    It comes from miles, and miles, and miles of practicing.  What I find most curious is that this isn’t a “secret running tip” that runners pass down from one to the next.  It’s something that every runner adopts….as a technique…..for um, survival ….(yea, I think that’s the right word)…survival.

Picture this.  Me in my Asics, at the bottom of my driveway.  My iPhone in hand, my C25K app open and ready to go, primed with my running playlist, set to one of my 3 weekly runs.  I had my settings established so a nice calming voice (I think his name is Jim) will whisper in my ear ….. “warmup.……run… have 2 miles left, you have 1 mile left, you have 500 feet left…., you have reached your goal.”   That sort of thing.   As soon as I hit the big green GO button….Math class is in session!    I’m running to get to the first whisper from Jim.  “You have 2 miles left”.   Cool!   Time to calculate.  If 3 miles is the denominator, and I have 2 miles left — hey, that’s 33% done!  Whew, awesome.  33% done.  33% done.  33%.  33…..That’s like my mantra for the next mile.  My “positive frame” that I’m using to drown out the screaming from my legs, or the heavy panting of my breathing.  Hey, quiet down the panting would ya?  I think Jim has something to say soon.  There it is….“You are half way done”.  Awesome Jim, thanks!   – halfway done.  Halfway.  That’s like 50%.  And 50% of 3 miles is like, 1 ½ miles.  1 ½ miles, cool.  That’s like 50%.  50….5 – 0 – ….   And this is how it goes….. until Jim gently whispers in my ear again, and again…..the whole way up and down the streets of my neighborhood….until I am done.  “Cooldown”…..”You have reached your goal”.   Whew, and not a moment too soon, Jim.  I’m beat!

Ok it’s a crutch, a mental crutch – I completely understand that.  But when you are “learning to run”, when you are a “runner-wannabe” at the beginning of this new learning curve…it’s all about survival baby!    The blissful thing about learning a new skill, whatever it is, is that learning is subtle.  It’s a series of small steps, incremental improvements, periodic setbacks, but it’s a subtle progression forward.  Sometimes hardly noticeable, and that’s FRUSTRATING – ask anybody who is on the path of  “learning to be capable” at anything.   But learning is a forward moving motion, none the less.  Somewhere along my journey, I don’t even remember when (see, …subtle)…..I began to hear the music in my ear, instead of Jim.    I would sing along with the songs in my head….analyze the songs.  Hmm, is this a long song, or a short song?  Is it a 3-minute song or a 4-minute song?  How many 4-minute songs would I need to hear before I finished 1 mile?  Well if I run a 12 minute mile, that’s like, er – three 4-minute songs.   See?  Math.   So every mile is about 3 songs.  One day I decided to turn Jim OFF.  [Gasp!]   No more whispering in my ear {sigh}, because now I could count my songs and extrapolate my time and %.   Yea, it sounds like crazy-making, I know.  But it’s all about survival baby!  Never forget that!

The long story short to all of this is…..soon…..all the voices in my head quieted down.  Both Jim’s and my own.  Soon,  I was just running, and listening to songs, and breathing fresh air, and really enjoying……yup ….enjoying my running.  When the Hell did THAT happen?  Well, it was subtle, like I said.  It happened bit by bit.  Step by step.  But the only important part is that it happened. 

I eventually moved on from the C25K program to the Bridge-to-10K program.  I will talk about that more in a later post.  So as I was running last Sunday – Week 4 – about 5.25 miles, I turned Jim back on because I wanted to know how I was doing during a series of 18 minutes runs.  Back to my mental crutch, yea I know, stop picking on me!   But you know what happened?  HE DROVE ME ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.  I was like, SHUT UP JIM, I can’t hear the music, I can’t hear myself think….I can’t find my peace of mind.  That night I turned Jim OFF again, for good this time.  I had learned that I enjoyed the sound of peace and quiet, and that my running wasn’t about “getting” somewhere as fast as I could.  It was about “being” somewhere in the moment.

That was a really lovely discovery …..and very unexpected..…which made it even more delicious.  Now I save all my Math skills for balancing my checkbook!  🙂

Ciao for now….Diane

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