On Thinking During Running

On Thinking During Running

Here’s an example of what I think about while I’m running.

For example, this song comes on my iPod. And instantly, I’m transported back years to when Vision Quest featuring Matthew Modine was my obsession.

I mean, how can you not love the training montages? Jake Ryan with a mohawk? Madonna before she turned all yogic and British?  And this Warm-Up Before The Big Match Scene?

There were so many things about this movie that I loved.

First, Louden Swain is the best name ever.

Second, do you know how hard it is to jump rope like that?

Third, in the book Vision Quest, of which the movie is based, the ending doesn’t show Louden wrestling Brian Shute. It just ends with him charging onto the mat, ready for battle and no certainty of his victory. Point goes to the novel, in this case.

Still, I loved this movie. Despite Linda Fiorentino grossing me out as Carla with her husky man voice. The main reason why is the whole endeavor Louden makes now that he’s 18. He sets a goal: to wrestle two weight classes below his current one, against the advice of his coach.

I’ve never trusted athletic coaches much. I’ve never understood why they holler and freak out and send you through hellacious drills that you doubt they could complete themselves. I’ve never seen them as leaders I ought to listen to, because I’ve taken such a dim view of sports, even as I played sports myself in high school.

So the challenge Louden makes to himself seemed unusual to me. Very badass. No one was making him get up early to run and do push-ups. No one was making him go to his job or study medical textbooks during his down time. It was a self-determined, noble proposal, coming from within rather than without, appealing to my would-be rebel self, thus kicking off the best training montages I’ve ever seen on film.

(Also, nobody could rock that hairstyle (the mid-90’s flop, though Vision Quest came out in 1985) better than Matthew Modine. Arguably, he’s the only one capable of it.)

Wrestling is a sport that inspires so much snickering. What with the tights/singlets/whateveryoucallthem. (Even the coach wears them during practice! Hee!) But wrestling remains, like boxing, one of my favorite sports to watch: direct sweaty contest between two bodies getting at the heart of what it means to struggle.

ANYWAY. This is what I mulled over for 20 minutes today while I ran.

The point here isn’t Whatever Happened To Matthew Modine or to argue that Rocky has better training montages. The point gets at the reason why I bother running in the first place. I once asked an IronMan finisher what he thought about while running, to get his mind off the pain. Thinking he’d have some amazing techniques, that he worked out puzzles or chess moves or quadratic equations while he ran. But he just said, “Oh, not much. I think about my breathing and how far I’m going. Just stuff, I guess.” Nothing more to say than that.

This astonished me. Which is why, I guess, I think it relevant to share with people the thoughts I have while putting my body through this agony. Though it’s a bit strange, that during my own training montages, I think about the training montages of someone else. The training montages of someone else who is fictional, no less. Strange, but not surprising.

Leave Reply