Be Here Now. Its a mantra that crept its way into my head after listening to a Mason Jennings song years ago. Since then, I've also been periodically reminded of this exact phrase in the not-so-routine yoga classes that I frequent. At first glance, its a simple idea. However consistent application, like Othello (a board game I grew up playing with my brother) "takes a minute to learn, a lifetime to master." At times, my stream of consciousness at work seems to align most closely with the wanderings of a nomad: I forgot to roll the trash can out this morning...better put gas in the car before going home today...the peanut butter supply is getting low...who is on my schedule to treat after this patient...oh yeah...what should I do with that kid today...what in the world am i going to eat for dinner...is it warm out today...is it going to be nice this weekend...I need to pay the rent...did that kid just say what I think he said...should've got more sleep last night...what should I send for Mother's Day? And in the midst of these haphazard thoughts, I somehow manage to do what needs to be done. At the same time though, I can't help but wonder what kind of greatness and peace of mind I'd be capable of if I spent more time in the moment.
For me, "being here now" is a topic that endurance training continues to teach. During the 11.5 hour suffer fest at Ironman Coeur d'Alene last year, I could not have finished if, during the swim, I thought about the 112 riding miles and 26.2 running miles I had yet to endure. At the same time, fatigue would have absolutely crushed me if at the start of the run, I reflected on the 7.5 hours of constant movement I had already put my body through. I firmly believe that training the mind to be in the moment is on the same level of importance as your weekly mileage or even your nutrition leading into a race.
Most recently, last Tuesday's Garden of the Gods training run of 10 x 60 sec hill repeats up the Strausenback Trail reminded me of this component of training. The objective of the workout was to run the repeats at as close to a 100% effort as you could muster, with an additional goal of covering approximately the same distance and reaching the same end point with each repetition. Mike Shafai, the mastermind behind these training runs, was offering bonus points to anyone who ralphed up breakfast. While no one was heard calling dinosaurs, what you did see amongst the group was an incredibly fierce focus and presence in the moment. As I glanced into the eyes of the runners coming up the hill, they were living in those 60 seconds, those 20 seconds, that 1 second. During those interval, nothing mattered except meeting your mark. Sure, acknowledgment of quads burning, heart pounding, and lungs searing slipped into my head but thats the beauty of the experience. During that hour, not only were you completely present and in tune with what was around you (we were in the Garden of the Gods at sunrise after all), but you had a heightened awareness of what was occuring inside. That was the great payoff.
(I must give credit to local runner Sean O'Day for the music video idea. He has a great blog entitled "Glass Half Full")