Friday, March 29, 2013

My Running Brain

Memory really defines who we are. Without memory we have no past, without our memory we cannot plan for the future, and it really helps us appreciate the moment. 

Dr. Gary Small, UCLA Centre for Memory and Aging

This is my office brain.

This is my running brain.

I watched CBC's  Doc Zone, Now Where Did I Put My Memory and it got me thinking of loved ones.

When I run I recognize that my brain is stimulated and considerably more aware of the moment than when I am sedentary.  While running my brain allows me to peek into the future and consider life's options with astonishing clarity.  While running I think of past events, of relationships, of possibilities, of hopes, of successes and failures. I make connections to events and the connections give meaning.  My running brain is different than my office brain.  My office brain is rationale, linear, sequential and locked in formality. My running brain by comparison is vibrant, free, receptive, colourful, and multi-dimensional. 

The question shouldn't be why do you run?... that's easy, we run because it makes us happy. The real question is why does running make us happy?  That question is more complex and requires deeper thinking. A big part of why running makes me happy is because it stimulates my brain and projects images that I would never see while sedentary.  My running brain makes me happy because of the colours I see and the textures I feel.  Running brings clarity to the nuances of life. My running brain makes me happy because of the answers it provides and the questions it raises. My running brain heightens my awareness of myself in this moment.  

This morning while running ... my brain locks into the crunching of the ice underfoot. It is a metronome to my heart.  The hoar frost, so stunningly gorgeous, soothes all worries ... how can there be problems with hoar frost so close, so thick, so intricate?  My brain negotiates winding trails and icy patches, calculating and adapting, knowing when to slow, when to go.  It's hyper-tuned to the moment.  But I ramble.

Hoar Frost, March 29
My loved ones?  There is a family person in my life with cancer.  She connects my brain to my past with tenderness and love.  She firmly anchors me to the present with pride and devotion.  This person, this loved one with cancer with months to live, she prepare me for my future with grace, and dignity.  

I run because it makes me happy.  Running makes me happy because it floods my brain with memories.  My running brain connects me with loved ones and delivers me to simpler times. Running plants me in the present and provides moments of brilliance, of clairvoyance.  My running brain fills me with joy. 

So friends remember, it's a good day to be alive.

When will you run today?