I think it's pretty clear to all of us that our perception of reality is organized at least to some extent by the language we have inherited. This language structures and organizes the way we encounter the world. One thing that I appreciate about philosophy--which Deleuze defined as "the creation of concepts"--is that it takes as its task the critical reorganization of our habits of perceiving. When done well, this reorganization is in the service of better habits of living.
By this definition a guy like Einstein would be a natural philosopher. By rigorously describing the concept of relativity and introducing it into language, he opened up new orders of perception. We were able to understand the universe in a totally different way. This reorganization of our understanding of the universe literally gave us a new universe--new possibilities for technology, new avenues of control, new paths of exploration. It's important to remember, though, that in order for Einstein to make his discoveries, a number of material conditions had to be in place: namely an experimental apparatus delicate enough to find the limits of the Newtonian world view.
Another example would be W.E.B. Dubois. His concept of the double-vision of racial consciousness also opened up new avenues of racial criticism. It described in language that was available to academics and other fairly powerful folks the perspective of living in a racial minority. Dubois was also perfectly positioned in culture to make this point. He had a mainstream education and knew how to express himself in the language of the dominant culture. But he also had access to the world of black experience, and he worked from within the dominant philosophical position to open angles onto this other universe, just as Einstein also couched his explanation of relativity by reference to foundational Newtonian physics.
These two examples show us that the relevant question with respect to the relationship between human consciousness and the shape of the universe is not the Cartesian question of whether our mind truly grasps reality. Or whether the subjective self or the objective world is more Real with a capital R. The more important questions are the smaller ones. How do our current habits of consciousness shape and delimit our perception? What sort of experiences make it possible to reorganize those habits? And how can we develop and maintain the habit of critically reacting to the blindnesses and gaps that are a necessary feature of intelligent categorization of the world in which we live?
The word "philosophy" describes the general habit of reconstructing the categories and ways of thinking that structure our interactions with the world. To take up the task of philosophy explicitly is to work consciously on behalf of keeping this critical habit alive, both in ourselves and in our culture.
The last 9 months I've learned a lot about how to run high mileage--its benefits and its drawbacks. You could describe the last three years of my training life as one of trying to figure out how to run 100 plus miles per week.
It seems easy, right--you just go out the door and average 14 miles a day.
But the problem of course is that training only works if you are well-trained enough to absorb it. Although I've been running on and off for 20 (gulp!) years, these last 3 years were really my first attempt to push the envelope of the volume of miles that I've run. Even in college, I would never run much more than 65 miles per week for an extended period.
So, over the last three years, more often than not, I've run too much too quickly, and in the wrong ways. This is the primary reason that it took me so long to improve on my first real marathon attempt. I would have moments where the miles would really work well for me, and I would do things in training that I never could ha…
Well, most basically, it's a run that's easy to accomplish. It's the backbone of training. It's the run that makes every other run possible.
For some runners, this is all that needs to be said. But for a lot of other runners, especially new runners or runners who are entering a new stage of fitness, the concept of "easy" can be somewhat elusive.
Heck, if you are really out of shape, there's no such thing as an easy run because nothing feels easy.
That said, I think there are a few things I can say about easy running that will help new runners and experienced runners alike, mostly because I think that most people -- believe it or not -- can do their easy running better.
The place to start when looking to understand what an easy run is and how it works in training is to think about what it's not.
An easy run is not a workout, which means that it's not a couple more things: it's not structured or planned or focused on a certa…
Being out of the sport for 3 years has had its downsides (namely the elliptical). On the other hand, it's also been a chance to learn a bit about what my body has held onto over a period of 3 years of not running, and what it lost.
1. Aerobic strength has been least affected. A month or so into my return, I was able to run 10 miles at a strong pace, close to the paces I ran at my top fitness. Of course I couldn't do it day after day, but it was surprising to me how easy it's been to get back to running 70+ minutes.
2. Muscle strength/resiliency has been most effected. While the aerobic engine is still strong, my tendons and muscles -- the chassis to the aerobic engine -- have been slower to adapt to the demands of training.
3. Sustained "hard effort" running is coming back steadily, but slowly. My ability to run faster paces and intervals, from marathon pace to 5k pace is increasing week to week. It's fun to feel like I'm on the improvement curve there, b…