I’m trying to tap into a mind-body connection to improve my running.

Normally when I hear the phrase “mind-body,” I think of hypnotists and mysteries and things that I don’t understand. I much prefer the science-based aspects of running. Things I can pull out a calculator for and check off a list. But I feel like I’ve done a lot of that and I’m falling short.

My trainer told me that she has noticed that my personal performance is very much dependent on my frame of mind. Some days I will go in thinking “I’ve got this!” and I’ll break my own records. She’ll be impressed. Other days I’ll come in neutral, or unsure. I’ll regress. The conventional trainer speeches don’t work on me and I think my trainer has a tough time figuring out how to motivate me.

I have definitely felt motivated in the past, so I know how it feels – that runner’s high. I just haven’t learned how to get myself mentally to a place where I can perform to maximum efficiency at will.

There are tons of motivational tips out there, but I feel it’s a deeper issue than sheer motivation. I can be motivated to get outside and run, but my mind isn’t always convinced that my body is capable of doing what my trainer swears that I can. I’ve been a geek all my life; it’s hard for me to believe sometimes that I can compete as an athlete. So I’ve taken it as a challenge. I find that two things help me a lot:

1. Thinking of the future. What I want to be when I grow up! What kinds of races I’ll run, what parts of the world I’ll get to see, what kinds of people I can help train. Sometimes on a tough run I can picture myself pounding out the last few meters of a very important race. Head to head with other athletes. Dramatic finish.

2. Music. Music takes me on a journey very much linked to the first point. Songs that remind me of where I’ve come from and where I’m going. For a stranger going through my ipod, the songs I have on there would seem completely random and senseless. But to me they mean something.

It’s tough for me to find running songs off other people’s playlists. I’ve tried that, and it’s like a shoe that’s two sizes too small and the lace is missing. I just can’t run in that. It’s not enough for a song to have a running beat. For me it has to have a story behind it.

So I thought I’d entertain you with a few of my strange ipod entries and explain their history. Get comfortable, sit back, and prepare to enter this troubled thing that is my mind! Ha.

THE JESUS FOLDER

I have a folder in my ipod I’ve labeled “Jesus,” for lack of a better title. I didn’t want to call it “Christian” or “worship” because I don’t think that really represents the songs I have in there. I have mentioned this briefly in an earlier post, but I was raised Baptist. I wasn’t actually allowed to listen to secular music throughout my childhood, so I tried my best to learn about the world through the music that I had. The songs I have in my Jesus folder is music I grew up with, even though there are songs in there that I don’t even like. Here’s an example:

He Who Began a Good Work In You by Steve Green. (YouTube link)

I’m not sure if Steve Green is still around, but he was big for my parents. I actually hated this song. But my mom loved it. She would sing it constantly and they played it at her funeral. I remember thinking it made THE worst possible funeral song because it talks about how God will complete the work he has started in someone. My mom died of cancer at age 27. So at her funeral I just sat there and thought, what the hell is complete about this??

I still listen to it because it reminds me of my mom. And I wonder if maybe I can still carry on her legacy. Or if in some twisted way she might still complete her purpose in life through me. Be proud of me even.

I couple this song with Find Us Faithful by Steve Green. (YouTube link)

Find Us Faithful is about carrying on the legacy of those who have carved out paths for us. It reminds me that I’m being watched. That someday my kids will watch me the same way that I watched my mom. That I should try to make them proud.

Me as a baby with my mom (and dad)

THE MAMI FOLDER

I have other songs that remind me of my mom in a folder labeled “Mami” (what I called her in Spanish). There are only three songs in there:

1. The Best Day by Taylor Swift. (YouTube link) I suspect this song is cheesy but I can’t help myself. It reminds me so much of my mom.

2. Bye Bye by Mariah Carey. (YouTube link) The first time I heard this I felt like crying.

3. La Balada De Nigga by Nigga. (YouTube link) This one is in Spanish. It’s a guy singing to his mom, who also died.

THE LOVE FOLDER

In a folder labeled “Love” I have:

Come What May by Nicole Kidman and Ewan Mcgregor from the movie Moulin Rouge. (YouTube link)

I watched Moulin Rouge shortly before my partner’s accident. Then for a few weeks I would sit beside him and sing it while he was in a comma. Then again over and over when he was conscious and tripping out on pain medication. If I stopped, he would start screaming about demonic visions above his bed. He doesn’t remember any of this. You’d think this song would trigger bad memories for me, but I find it calming.

Tu Amor Me Hace Bien by Marc Anthony. (YouTube link)

It’s a Spanish love song. After my partner came out of the hospital he sent me this. Freaking classic. Marc Anthony rocks.

Hospital days

THE SEAN PAUL FOLDER

These songs remind me of the days I lived in the ghetto. (Jane Finch baby!) Running around barefoot trying to borrow a sounds system so we could blast Sean Paul songs when my parents were out. Walking to the gas station for slurpees on 30+ summer days with my sisters. My only form of transportation was my bike at the time and I would ride it like a wild thing. I took the worst wipeout of my life right in front of the McDonald’s. I bent my bike in half and had to carry it home with my legs and arms all bloody. Ah.. Sean Paul. Good times.

BEST sisters in the world!!

OTHER FOLDERS

I have a Lily Allen folder. Because sometimes she just says the things I wish I could. Like FU.

Oh and Lil Wayne. I love how he sounds like a hobbit with bronchitis.

I even have a Kenny Rogers folder. But Kenny Rogers is complicated; I’ll have to explain him some other time.

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