Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Patience vs. Understanding

Reading Craig's post today prompted me to write this post. I read an article recently about patience vs. understanding. This article was talking about working with toddlers and preschool aged children, but made a good point that carries over into life in general.

Patience can be defined many ways, but in general it implies a willingness to endure, to wait it out, whatever it may be. It requires mental discipline and stamina. Understanding, on the other hand, is defined as having knowledge about and applying it to the situation at hand, and therefore, reacting with intentional thought. In the case of young children, the argument is made that we don't need patience, we need understanding. Do we want to endure the times with our children, or do we want to understand them and respond thoughtfully? Would you rather your child had a teacher with patience, or a teacher with understanding? (Can you tell I'm deep into teaching the Intro class?) I vote for understanding. If we understand, then we don't need patience. Patience almost implies that a child is doing something wrong and it is taking our forbearance to tolerate it and wait it out. Rather, I want to understand. Where is the child developmentally? Are they simply acting and thinking according to their developmental stage? How can I guide them during this?

Okay, what in the world does my little lecture have to do with running? (I'm trying to emulate Donald here, but I don't have any girlfriend analogies.) Craig was discussing how hard it was to be a patient runner. In an earlier post, I mentioned my lack of patience for marathon prep. This could apply to recovering from injury (or personalizing it, surgery,) it could apply to the 10% rule in ramping up the mileage. It's hard to be patient when you are raring to go. So...maybe patience isn't the answer. Maybe it's understanding. What's with the 10% rule anyway? Where'd it come from? What happens if you increase 11% every week? What else leads to injury - is it just the 10% or is it form, shoes, nutrition, weather? What about recovery? When we are coming back from an injury/surgery, how do we know what to do? Do we simply "listen to our body" and follow how we feel? Do we follow a prescribed plan? Something the doc told us to do? (And is he/she a runner, do they know?)

Do we need to be patient runners, enduring the wait or do we need to be understanding runners, gathering knowledge about our situation and applying it? I vote for understanding (of course I do, that way I can do what I want!) I ask around, I discuss it endlessly, I talk to experienced runners and those who have come back from injury, and those who've gone the distance, and I add in my own experience. Then I try to put it all together and develop an answer. It works for me - now I don't have to be patient, because I've created something that I think will work and that I understand and am satisfied with.

I say toss patience out the window and work to understand it. As I read Craig's post, that is exactly what he was doing...thinking it through, eliciting comments, gathering knowledge. My experience leads me to believe that I need to push a little, not in speed, but in endurance. I know myself well, and I recognize the little twinges that warn me I'm pushing too hard. Good thing my current training plan is flexible - it's got to have room to mess around a little to accommodate life, as well as those little signals to ease up a bit.

Here's the week so far:
Monday: Pilates; rest from running
Tuesday: 6 miles; 1:10:05, average HR: 141, high: 158
Wednesday: 6 mile hill run, 1:13:47, average HR: 140, high: 161; subbed in Pilates after the run

I was planning to do 4 yesterday and 8 today, but then realized I had an early morning meeting at the Y, immediately followed by Pilates, so I split it into two runs for yesterday and today. I've been a little tired since the 13 miles on Sunday, so it probably wasn't a bad idea. I waffle back and forth between anticipating running 16 miles on Sunday - new mileage, nice route, new challenge- and dreading it - oh my gosh! 16 miles! never done it, can I do it? It's highly possible that running it is going to be way better than all this anticipation! And this is only a training run...

14 comments:

Donald said...

No girlfriends, huh? I guess if you had one, this blog would draw a different crowd.

I completely agree with you: patience is good, but understanding is way better.

olga said...

And I am useles for advice on this issue:) I have neither. But good luck to you!

Nicole said...

Love the post. I might need to rethink my need for patience and work on understanding especially with my desire to be married now.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

oooooooooooooooo

I've been talking about patience with Ash, trying to explain it to him. Methinks I need to approach it from a different angle...

*jeanne* said...

Wow - you really put a lot of thought into this. I guess I agree with the patience vs. understanding theory. But I may be too lazy to apply it to myself & my running. But then, mostly I just PLAY at training and running. It's still exercise, right?

And I'm an OLD broad.

robtherunner said...

Impatience is what I have with my children and I am currently searching for understanding. Nice post and the 16 miler will be a new fun adventure.

craig said...

I'm still sorting though some stuff. The comment I was going to leave keeps growing. So maybe I'll take another shot at it tomorrow.

matt said...

this is a great post, michelle...my questions to you are this:

are patience and understanding mutually exclussive? can we possess both qualities when dealing with a situation in life, as with children? ... or with our running goals?

Anne said...

I love this post! It's so true that there is a difference between the two concepts and that a lot of runners practice neither, resulting in injuries or poor performances from not exhibiting patience and understanding the need to do so. Thanks for reminding us that this running thing is as much mental as it is physical.

backofpack said...

Matt, Yes, I think there are times that we use both. Certainly, with children, even though we understand, we find ourselves frustrated, and we have to practice patience. We need patience because we feel the child isn't progressing fast enough to suit us, because we are tired and cranky, because life impacts us in other ways that lead us to be, as Rob said, impatient. Speaking for myself, I have discovered that when I truely understand, then I find it easy to go along with the timeframe set by the child. One of the questions I tell the students to constantly ask themselves is "what is in the best interest of the child?" Hurrying them through development is not.

You know, I am way more patient with children than with adults. Possibly because I understand children are children, but I expect adults to live up to my standards. A very selfish point of view that I try to moderate.

As for running? I often still need patience. Mostly because I'm anxious to move ahead, to reach the goal sooner rather than later. If I can remind myself of all I understand about running and specifically, running related to me, then I am better at waiting. That's an aspect of my personality that I have to work on - because although I like to have a plan, I have a hard time with long-drawn-out planning - as in planning a marathon or a wedding. A couple of weeks is good, a couple of months okay, longer than that and I have a hard time sustaining focus.

This comment has practically been a post in itself!

matt said...

perhaps patience is a by-product of understanding...(scratching my head as i ponder that one). great comment/post, michelle...thanks for keeping me thinking on this one :)

JustRun said...

It is no accident that I'm coming across all this writing on patience today.

Thanks for visiting my blog. :-)

Robb said...

I'm looking forward to reading about your 16 mile run on Sunday. Go for it! How's the toe? Haven't heard much about it lately. Nail growing back yet?

Bye,

Veggieboy

Jim said...

Maybe I'm the non-teacher in the group, but I think I find it easier to be patient with adults than with children. And probably, because of the understanding thing -- I think I probably understand adults better than children. Maybe "relate to" is a better way to express it.

And relating patience to running, it IS hard to be patient with seemingly arbitrary rules (like the 10% rule) without understanding. And the best way to "understand" why there's a 10% rule is to break it repeatedly. And pay the consequences.

Best of luck with your 16 miles.