In every race there comes a critical point when victory hangs in the balance.
At that instant, no matter how cleverly he has been coached, the issue of victory or defeat passes entirely to the athlete. Only then do the athletes powers of physical and mental courage, will-power, tenacity and competitive desire stand naked and exposed in a moment of truth, which cannot be denied, (p. 78)
In recent years as I have progressed from the protection of my student days and been rudely exposed to an adult world, I have learned to use running for relaxation and creativity and as my form of play. I have found that running is one way to live with everyday mental hassles and to create, as Perry and Sacks (1981) described, a magic world, while realizing at the same time that it is only make-believe (p.
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79). I have found that running provides time for the creativity that is important in my work. So I have written articles, prepared speeches, designed research experiments, and indeed refined this blog during the hours that I have spent running. And I have found that my thinking during those hours is more precise and insightful than at any other time of my day.
Running taught me that creativity does not result solely from hard work. I feel that regular play, like running, provides the childlike activity necessary for the creative act to occur, for novel thoughts to appear apparently from nowhere, and for old established ideas to suddenly take on a hew meaning. I am by no means the first to discover this. George Sheehan, whose writings are bom during his 1-hour river runs (Sheehan, 1978b), has uncovered many examples of great writers and thinkers who used exercise to improve their creativity: U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, the poet Coleridge, the philosopher Nietzsche, the great statesman Jan Smuts, and the poet Wordsworth, who covered prodigious distances over the English countryside as he composed his poetry. According to Thoreau (1862), when a traveler asked Wordsworths servant to show him the poets study, she answered, Here is his library, but his study is out of doors (p. 596). ‘
As the American mathematician Morris Kline has written, The creative act owes little to logic or reason. Indeed it seems to occur most readily when the mind is relaxed and the imagination roaming freely. ? Or as the historian Gibbon wrote, Solitude is the school of genius. .