One common thought that enters my mind as I am running my daily route is a kind of fun way to think of how my mind and body are related. In Haruki Murakami’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International), he compared the human body to a beast of burden, in that if you stress your muscles, they will complain at first but then eventually comply to the extra effort. I have for a long time thought of my body as some kind of machine or robot, sort of like one of those Japanese giant robots, where my brain is the pilot of this running machine, and I have to keep watch on the functions of the different parts of the machine.
The pilot keeps tabs on the status of my knees, ankles, leg muscles in general, breathing, and hydration level. For the most part, I let my body run on auto-pilot, never needing to actually adjust my speed (except when crossing intersections), and just monitor the statuses. My breathing also never really changes except when I go on a long uphill. It’s actually fun to notice that my body requires more oxygen, and imagine the “pilot” order the body to inhale and exhale with more force and more speed. Then at the top of the hill, the body goes into a “recovery mode” and the heart and breathing rate drop back down to normal.
Since I have been nursing a sore knee the past month or so, the pilot’s control center is a little more lively in that his status displays show some damage to the right knee. I am visualizing a picture of my body as if it were viewed by a heat-sensitive night-vision-goggle type of thing or MRI. When my knee hurts, that part of the scan is glowing red. And sometimes my shoulder would get a little sore before it loosens up, and I’d imagine the pilot in my brain having to monitor that part of the machine as well.
It’s really bizarre what goes through my mind sometimes! But I think it’s actually kind of fun too, and just another aspect of running that makes it so enjoyable to me. I never know where my thoughts are going to take me, but I always end my run feeling way better than at the beginning.