you don't need a mirror when you've got the society of long runs

Nevertheless, although the deep salt sea holds you around the middle, strain against treacherous plots. We will be seen arriving in the light far above our enemies. 
I have kept on keeping on. In running, this ceded a small victory: the work I've done on arm swing continues to have knocked up to 20 minutes off my 23.4K, which I do three to four times a week, and I finish runs so much more energized. My arms are now more like in a T-Rex starting position - who knows what I was doing before. Well, people who saw me do. Since I have a terrible habit of talking to strangers, which is probably not recommended as a foreigner, I do wave and have brief chats with these people and today I was stopped and told that my arm swing is now awesome: "Before you used to do this!" the man said, moving his arm in all manner of directions...
Thence my mirror and at least one small victory over an obstacle, if self made.
I was thinking today about athletes who bound over further distances in the middle of mountains and considering how many must be modern day philosophers - if philosophy is understood as the kind of mental experience where one is faced with one's existence: in pain to the membrane [1] in an unfathomable and changing landscape. I think that outdoor activity, particularly a sustained kind requiring discipline, has great potential to promote breakthroughs from the internal that lead to the larger mirror that is the society of the natural: the sky is never the same, but still called "sky". So who are we?
Another example would be the commonplace of the humility of old-skool ultrarunners. Please, locate humility in a general place elsewhere on the internet: I think it is largely absent. Instead, it seems like a mass-myopia has spread among people. Humility is antonymic to myopia because the latter only sees nearness, narrow self-projections, and that last word implies a kind of sickness.
[1] after "Insane to the Membrane", that Cyprus Hill '90's song.


We are to strain against the treacherous, which includes the lazy parts of ourselves, and, gasp, brooding. But another man, with an envious glance, broods in the darkness over an empty thought that falls to the ground. ... Beyond Gadeira towards the western darkness there is no passage; turn back the ship's sails again to the mainland of Europe, for it is impossible for me to tell the full story of the sons of Aeacus. 
To not brood. And also, to turn back from dark thoughts - away from ... which story? The Iliad! And a return to simpler stories of obstacles being overcome (though we know the sons of Aeacus - the Aeacidae - overcame Troy): heroes being assisted by gods and centaurs and thwarting the "edge of ... terrible teeth" - even to go on to marry well. So much is packed into the poem that I'm citing, Pindar's Nemean 4.
Is it not easy to brood, though? It is perceptive of Pindar to include "brooding" in a poem that is actually about athletic victory. He certainly drives the point home that victory is also the surmounting of obstacles - which, aside from brooding, include loss along the way: A man who did not understand this proverb would appear to be inexperienced in battle: since “it is likely that the doer will also suffer.”
The ultrarunner knows about that suffering. I am not an ultrarunner, but even at 55 miles a week (my mileage dropped since the academic year began) I experience this - which is why I am imagining about ultrarunning, how much "more" it is. (Since I changed my armswing - so grateful to the "heart" advice - for the first time ever, I am feeling the running in my quads, though also my knees because it seems that I have begun to drag my feet a little in sections: it is so hard to get things in order when tweaking form.) The ultrarunner knows it is a sign of inexperience to go into a long race and expect results, as opposed to hope for them.


Which is why I think ultrarunners even in 2016 would "get" Pindar, who is constantly evoking the gods (the greater aspects of life, including fortune) together with his praise of mortal feats, including his own: Speech lives longer than deeds; whatever words the tongue, with the favor of the Graces, draws from the deep mind. May it be mine to set forth such speech, in honor of Zeus the son of Cronus, and Nemea, and Timasarchus' wrestling, as a prelude to my song.
And indeed we are left wondering: has the athlete's philosophy reached its full potential if it is not recorded in writing for posterity? There is certainly room for debate on this: for the good athlete will surely be inspiring to his or her inner circle. But writing brings this to another level: consider a recent post in praise of even nature's humility by Sandi Nypaver, or the paean to Dave Mackey.
Pindar's Nemean 4, however, shows that beyond even humility and straining against the salt, the meaning of a philosophy that begins in disciplining the flesh can extend to other social disciplines. Late in the poem, Pindar mentions Melesias. Thomas Figueria, writing of the significance of Melesias in Pindar's poems, explains this figure was not only Greece's best wrestler (and father of the Athenian politician Thucydides to boot) but also a coach whose tutelage transcended "mere physical education": "training in wrestling for aristocratic adolescents strove to inculcate the correct tenor for future political competition" (and, ahem, "a network of political friendships").
I see the philosophy that begins in athletics almost as a cleansing from a philosophy that might begin only in the mind because for the majority of athletes who are "clean" there are no shortcuts to achievement, miles have to be logged, motivation found, discipline honed - also through repetition, the intellect engaged, the stomach mastered (as much as possible!), pride sometimes swallowed but strength found to stand up again... so much that would make a constructive reflection to see in the mirror one looks into.

Brush: Ewansim via DeviantArt.

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