Workout: Unknown. The workout as zen Moment, from Phoebe Wright


So, I have a confession to make. One of my really enjoyable moments in social media was when I found Phoebe Wright's blog. I was not sure what I was expecting, but, I was blown away. I see something new each time I read one of her pieces. I am introduced to a view that I had not experienced before. That, to me, is good writing.

Moments of clarity and grace (I am not sure where I grabbed that from), moments of candor, moments of frustration, and moments of zen. Phoebe Wright captures all of those. More importantly, she writes about those experiences for you, our reader.

She also captures her experiences of running, and her style is unencumbered, like an e.e. cummings poem, which is the greatest compliment I can think of right now.

So, I asked Phoebe to write a weekly column on anything on running. I want to see where she goes with it. I want you, dear and kind readers, to do the same.

pw and zeyituna.jpg

Phoebe Wright (blue shorts) and Zeyituna (Green sweat top)

Workout: Unknown.

I picked up a 2:01 Ethiopian training partner last week. That sounds weird--it is. 2:01 800m women are a rare sight, and I had one randomly move to Seattle and randomly ask to train with me! What a gem, right?! I have no clue where she came from or why she is in Seattle. All I know is that she is here, she wants to run well, and she's good. She asked me when and where to meet for practice. I gave her the deets and crossed my fingers, that this wasn't some daydream of mine. It wouldn't be the first time I was let down by a daydream that I confused with regular life.

I tried to explain the workout to her.

It quickly became apparent that Zeyituna does not know English that well yet. And I most certainly don't even know what language she is speaking, let alone even a word in that language.

I charades-ed "4 sets of 3x300m with a minute rest, and 4 minutes between sets."

It was unsuccessful.

Probably because of my 'charades' skills.

Plus, I was saying the workout really obnoxiously loud over and over, like that would help. I'm actually kind of embarrassed at the charades-ing/loud talking! Also, I could not have picked a harder workout to try to act out. I was getting confused on the set and rep numbers, and I am proficient in English (mostly. Besides making up words like "charadesing")

I ended up giving up and saying, "Ok. Start here in 1 minute." She nodded.

We ran together for the workout.

She hung on every interval.

Half way through the workout I was thinking to myself that Zeyituna has no clue how far or how fast or how much recovery she will get when she lines up.

All she knows is that when we are about to start the interval.


What is she thinking about if she cannot think about the remaining number of meters left in the interval?! How does she know she can handle the pace? Or when the workout will end? Or if her butt will fall off?!

I was thinking about how much anxiety that would cause me. I live in a world where I want to feel a sense of control. Not knowing anything about the immediate future really messes with my need for a false sense of control.

Then, during my delusional state on the 4th set, I changed my thinking.

Having no clue how far or how fast you are about to run is actually ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! (I'm not sure if it is awesome, or if I was just that delusional, FYI. But it was food for thought.)

Zeyituna knows she wants to run faster than me during a race.

So therefore, she has to be able to run at least as fast as me during a workout. If I am running the workout without stressing, then there is no need for her to stress. She just has to keep up. We are in it together.

There's no thinking, or pacing, or anxiety about being able to finish the workout. It's an exercise in faith and self-confidence. It's incredible! She is truly in the moment. There is no distraction of results or expectations. There is only right here, right now.

In a way, it's exactly how a race would be. Or how I would want to approach a race, at least. When I line up, I assume I have weaponry and a skill set better or at least comparable to every woman on that line. If someone goes out too fast for me, it is also too fast for her, so we are going to have fight through the same struggles.

It makes it so simple. It's like a race plan of "beat her." Which is racing simplified. It's refreshing. And! How ironic, if you let go of your compulsive need to be a control freak, you gain control of the moment.

Thank you, Zeyituna.

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