Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Find Your Flow

I went to get a post race massage tonight, and had a great conversation with my massage therapist about the mental side of running. I told her about how I got emotional during my marathon this past Sunday, and how everything seems clearer to me during those very emotional moments of a race.

Caroline, my massage therapist, is a former triathlete, social worker- turned massage therapist and is just a great person to talk to. She immediately understood what I was trying to describe, and simply said, you experienced "flow". She described the mental psychology of reaching a euphoria and just a deeper understanding of yourself as an athlete, and your purpose on this planet.

I drove home thinking about this, and decided to find out more. In fact, its kinda of been nagging me since Sunday. I feel a little unsettled and I'm not sure why.

What is flow? I hate to source Wikipedia (but its so darn convenient), but here is what I found out:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

Runner's flow, I guess in short may conjure up a number of images, but I guess it means being "in the zone" or "runner's high". I find it hard to describe it other than that it was an incredibly beautiful and full filling experience not only as an athlete, but as a human being.

So as a runner, have you experienced flow? If so, what was it like for you? I am positive we call all find some inspiration in sharing our experiences!

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

22 comments:

Melanie said...

hmmm, heard of the runners' high, not sure if i've fully experienced it or not. but i do know that i also became emotional after my first HM, knowing i achieved something i never thought possible and had to work at. so the flow makes sense... great post Marci!

Blyfinn said...

I don't believe that I have even experienced something as intense as you did. I do believe I have felt a runners high before however. And it seemed to carry me for awhile. The extreme emotions that you went through I'm sorry to say that I can't relate.

The Laminator said...

Hey...thnaks for the congrats.

Definitely had a runners' high while lasted throughout my 26.2.

Julianne said...

"flow"... wow! Why didn't I ever hear of this term before? It's so true and the definition is perfectly summed up!! Thank you for sharing that with us. I will be referring to this word often!

joyRuN said...

Love that feeling. It's the pursuit of that "flow" that gets me out there. Whether that day's run brings it or not, doesn't matter, because even if it doesn't, I'll be running again.

BeachRunner said...

Great post. I never heard it called "flow" but even as a newbie I can relate to that special feeling.

Marlene said...

I can't say I have truly experienced it.

I've had the occasional spurt of a "runner's high" but nothing so intense.

Thanks for sharing. Hopefully I will REALLY know what you're talking about one of these days. :)

Marcy said...

I have experienced it on a couple occasions. It was actually similar to Beachy's description of his run around the pond. I know this sounds REALLY REALLY (I mean lay on the Velveeta) cheesy but I feel so good it's not like I'm even running, kinda gliding along. And a lot of times I get teary from how beautiful everything looks?!? (which is odd because I don't live in a beautiful area LMAO!)

Vava said...

I'm not certain I've experienced runner's high yet since I am early into this whole running thing and my distances are still short, but I definitely experienced something similar when I used to swim. On those super long sets (like 3 X 3000m) you definitely hit a point where your mind and body become detached. Very cool , but also easy to lose count of your distance. No such thing as Garmin for swimmers (at least not back then), but with that gadget I look forward to just letting go knowing that the distance is being tracked.

tfh said...

I've never heard of flow used in this context, but I'm extremely grateful that I've experienced what I think you could call flow while running, even though I've never done the marathon distance. Maybe I'm more prone to it anyway because (a) I experience INTENSE emotions and (b) I do things like yoga that help get me in touch with these emotions and their relationship with the physical.

Anyway it's a beautiful feeling and thank you for introducing me to a name for it!

*aron* said...

i love this post and love that term :)

Cindy said...

hey! i followed julianne's link over to your blog- love this post. i had never heard it called flow before (i like that) but i have felt it and it's fantastic! i felt really connected to everything (no pot involved, i swear) and , like marcy said, kinda like i was floating along. not too shabby!

chia said...

I think of the phrase "runners flow" and think... "where's my black shorts?"

*tee hee*

Sorry, I'm such a dork!

Denise said...

When I *think* about crossing the finish line at the marathon, I get emotional. I can't imagine what it will be like if I experience the flow...

COTY said...

The definition describes it perfectly. Yes I've experienced it several times. It is something you never know when it will hit. It just does.

Run Mommy said...

Flow..that was a great post Marci! I love the "flow"!

ncrunner12 said...

The best way I can describe "flow" for myself is hours after a long run looking at people and knowing that in one morning I have done more then they will all day. That is the runners high for me.

Carly said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!
I loved this post....I think that the hope of getting to the high or the flow is what keeps me coming back to running.

Lily on the Road said...

Yes, I have experienced that "flow" on really long runs, but I've yet to discover my purpose on this planet...really, and that bothers me.

Your massage therapist sounds like a really cool person to know!!

Nat said...

It comes in fits and spurts but yes, I feel flow (sounds like my period or something.)

The time and place when it all makes sense and you're totally there but yet everywhere at once. I've often thought of it as moving meditation.

Brad Braden said...

Good post. I do a lot of work with Qi gong, and I find what they refer to a "qi flow" is very much the same as the flow/runners high/zone or what ever you want to call it that I get in a good run.

Cheers.

Nitmos said...

I don't know if it is the same but I certainly get into prolonged stretches of "hyper focus", I call it, during a marathon. In fact, many times I kick myself for not taking in the sights/sounds of the race because I'm concentrating on the road in front of me and the miles just fly by.