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Showing posts from 2008

On Motivation

From a message board, a response to a buddy, looking for a reason to run.

Whatever. There are no tricks. Run because you have to. Run because you love it. Run because you want to be fast. Run because you want to be skinny. Run to find some quiet time. Run to sweat. Run to eat. Run hear your heart pound in your ears. Run because you're a runner. Run because you gotta keep the streak. Run because you don't know why the hell you're running. Run because you fought with your partner. Run because your job is shitty. Run because you got no money. Run for the sunrise. Run for a race. Run because it's impossible. Run because it's easy. Run instead of doing the laundry. Run instead of watching TV. Run because no one else understands. Run because the cool kids do it. Run because you're tired of talking. run for numbers. Run for feel. Run to prove something. Run because it fucking hurts.

Or don't run. If you got something better to do.

Run By Feel

What is "running by feel?" I think there are three related features to this approach to training:

1. "Primary experience" is privileged over "secondary experience." What does this mean? It means that when there is a conflict between the immediate experience of running and the reflective experience of thinking about running, the immediate experience is given priority. For example, I might decide after reflecting on my running that what's best for me to do tomorrow is to 8 x 800 at 10k pace. I head to the track and try the first one at 10k pace and struggle to make it. The immediate experience is telling me that this pace is too fast. Instead of clinging to the idea that I have to run 10k pace, I back off and listen to the primary experience of the workout. The reverse is sometimes, also, fortunately true. We can have good days and beat our expectations.

For running by feel, the "problem" of training is always to bring the secondary experience …

Education and Experience

Emerson wrote this in "The American Scholar":

The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun; and, after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every day, men and women, conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle most engages. He must settle its value in his mind. What is nature to him? There is never a beginning, there is never an end, to the inexplicable continuity of this web of God, but always circular power returning into itself. Therein it resembles his own spirit, whose beginning, whose ending, he never can find, — so entire, so boundless. Far, too, as her splendors shine, system on system shooting like rays, upward, downward, without centre, without circumference, — in the mass and in the particle, nature hastens to render account of herself to the mind.

In these words, we find an early compelling account of the idea of experie…

Boltzmann's Brain

This NYTimes article on cosmology headed the "most emailed" list for a few hours this morning. I think that this graphic explains the view best. The article's position on this popularity list raises a couple of questions. First, how is it that scientists could hold such a strange view of the universe? And second, why do readers of the New York Times care so much (at least this morning) about this totally strange view?

My problem with Boltzmann's Brain theory (which basically suggests that the probability that we are brains in vats is much higher than the probability that our ordinary commonsense world exists) is that it is not an empirical theory, but a mathematical one. It starts with an idea, the notion that matter is basically a collection of atoms sitting in empty space, and then sets out to ask whether or not our current universe is consistent with that idea. Well, when it turns out that our universe and the original idea aren't too compatible, the reaction…