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Showing posts from November, 2012

Listening to the Body: Neuroscience and the Art of Training

If you want to frustrate a new runner and come off as an elitist prick on message boards, there is a quick and easy path. Tell them to listen to their body. Long time runners are always offering this little nugget of wisdom, and new runners are always saying: what the heck does that mean!

I think that neuroscience can help explain.

Neuroscientists have confirmed what we have long known -- that there is an important difference between hearing and listening. In this nice little piece by Seth Horowitz, a Brown University neuroscientist, we learn that the auditory sense is quantitatively almost 10 times faster than the visual sense. In other words, our reactions to what we hear are less processed and more instinctive than our reactions to what we see. Horowitz describes the auditory sense as the human "alarm system" that operates constantly, even while asleep.

To balance that constant guardedness, we have something like "volume control" -- a way of turning up importan…

Just Run, Baby!

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"He who lives as children live -- who does not struggle for his bread and does not believe that his actions possess any ultimate significance -- remains childlike. "

F. Nietzsche, "Daybreak"

"The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars." -- J. Cash


Back when I was in graduate school, one of my professors (a Freudian psychoanalyst whose primary mode of pedagogy was delicately nudging and spinning thoughts as, perhaps, a mineral collector does late at night, hopeful that an old crystal lit from just the right angle might gleam with a new shade of light) told me something that stuck with me. He said quite matter-of-factly after one of us had made some sort of comment about childhood: "Remember that childhood is an adult concept."

This professor's point was the relatively simple but often unthought truth that children have no need for the concept of childhood. Childhood is a concept constructed in response to adult life which therefore ma…