Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Tabula Rasa"

*** If you like this Blog Posting, you might enjoy my book:  "Quiet the Noise: A Trail Runner's Path to Hearing God"

“Tabula Rasa”

Those of you that took Psychology 101 in college will recognize the Latin phrase “Tabula Rasa’.  This is Latin for “Blank Slate” or, more accurately; “scraped tablet”. 

This phrase refers to a psychological concept that we are born with a “blank slate” and everything we are and do is “written” on that slate and comes from our experience, environment and learning.  It was first referred to by Aristotle and has been a popular and not so popular theory in psychology since his time.

Why am I writing about this?  Well, this phrase came to mind after a mid-day run last week.

As you know by now, most of my running is done at a very “conversational pace” that allows deep thinking, meditation and prayer.  I can usually find a concept or thought or specific challenge and spend the whole time processing that thought.

Not this day.

On this particular Tuesday, my travels allowed me a 2 hour break in the middle of the day and I realized (at the last minute) that I was only 5 minutes away from one of my favorite training areas: Kennesaw Mountain.

Got to the parking lot and planned on doing a 1 hour out and back run.

As usual, I had no idea where I would go, or the pace I would do it at, I just took off.

The run started “normally” for me.  Quick walk warm up and full Rosary.  I felt really good on the way out (a lot of slight downhills) and slowly picked up my pace as I warmed up more.  Once I got to the turn around point, I was feeling really good so I grabbed a quick drink of water and turned around for “home”.

For some strange reason, I continued to pick up my pace – I had a lot on my mind and my spirit told me this was a day not to process anymore, just to run.

And run hard.

So I did.

I pushed all the hills that I might normally walk.

I ran very hard on the flats and smoked the downhills.

At one point I actually hit the breathing and heart rate level that I normally hit during “short” (under 20k) races.

Again, I did not plan this. It just happened.

I was totally and completely in the moment, it was painful but joyful at the same time.

I was not thinking about anything except each step. Before I knew it the run was over and I felt fantastic.

My mind was clear.  No processing anymore.

Nothing “solved” but an hour of peace and tranquility in the middle of a stressful day.

The best part was it was not planned.  No idea I would run this fast.  No idea I would decide to push myself this hard. 

Mostly, no idea I needed a run like this to clear my head.

God knew. 

I listened.

Tabula Rasa