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running psychology: association x dissociation

a mental connection or relation between thoughts, feelings, ideas, or sensations.

the separation of whole segments of discrete mental processes from the mainstream of consciousness or of behavior with loss of integrated awareness and autonomous functioning of the separated segments or parts.

my mood changes constantly (much to my husband’s peevishness). it is therefore natural that i can be in various “running moods” as well (without much an impact on my marriage). i use association and dissociation as mental tools when running, depending on my “running mood”. in last night’s run, for instance, i used association all throughout the run. i call it “meta-running”. at every second was i aware of my form, my breathing, my posture, my gait, my stride, my effort to keep up a high leg-turnover. experiencing a complete cognizance of the act of running itself. in this state of consciousness, all there is is the here and now. and now i’m running. and now my mind is fully connected to the sensations of running. and now i’m running and now i’m thinking about running and now i’m thinking about not just any run and now i’m thinking about this particular run and now i’m thinking about how each fiber of my muscles should play its part in the grand scheme of this run. now. when this happens i become mrs. duracell bunny. i become a machine — a robot, if you will — that only performs one task. put one foot in front of the other. and i stay grounded. and i could go on forever. and i could write on the subject forever, apparently, so i will drop the redundant explanations. if you’re a runner, you understand.

at the other end of the spectrum, — the gamma rays of running (or the radio waves of running, depending on the point of view) — i can go on a (usually very long) run and completely zone-out. my mind wanders. my mind explores any and every subject; including, but not limited to, running. not the very action of running, but race planning, when and where to get my next pair of running shoes, my camelbak broke and needs to be replaced, i ran out of vaseline, my socks are all dirty, i need to do laundry… and most often thoughts completely unrelated to running. work. dreams. trips. people. memories. conversations. the kid on the bicycle just passing me. the dime on the groud i decide not to pick up. the late phone bill (shit!). sometimes i solve intricate work problems or have my best ideas during a run. sometimes i forget them after the run, too. running then becomes effortless. in a way i’m still mrs. duracell bunny, except with a bad case of identity crisis that prevents me from knowing who (what?) i am. and it doesn’t matter. again, if you’re a runner, you understand.

all other runs fall in the “blah” category, if there’s such a thing. there aren’t many of those, luckily. (or if there are, they release a stream of amnesia-inducing hormones). that’s the thought for today. i think i’ll go out on a run.

EDIT: ok, so i had to come back and add an edit about the vaseline, just in case the non-runners are kept wondering and left with wild ideas. distance runners go through jars of the gooey stuff to lubricate body parts that would otherwise become chafed from the constant and prolonged rubbing. underarms, inner thighs, nipples (men only), running bra straps (women only, hopefully), in between toes… very often used on the toenail beds as well, to cover the areas where toenails once actually existed, another runner’s trademark. of course you can always skip the vaseline and tape your feet. but i don’t wanna get too technical here…

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