A Runner by Any Other Name

“I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.” — Bart Yasso

I successfully did a pace of 12:00/mile for all of about a minute the other day.  This would be the fastest that I have ever run. Ever.  Yesterday, I did 2.03 miles, which is my longest distance.  I’m averaging a pace of about 13:57 through my runs.  Not shabby, but not fast.  The longest time that I have run consecutively so far is five minutes.  And I could only do that once during the entire first day of Week 4 on Couch-to-5k. It asks you to do two runs of five minutes.  I broke up the second run into two different parts.

Five minutes is the longest run I’ve done in my whole life.  It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t easy. Of course, I also felt that way about running three minutes at a time, but that seems like nothing compared to the five! Watching the other people around me running for tens of minutes at a pace much higher than mine could be discouraging.  Sometimes it is.

The title “runner” seems like an achievement. When do you get it?  After your first race?  When you can successfully run for more than five minutes? When your pace reaches a certain level? Or does it start with intention?  The most recent example of this I can think of is Kevin Smith.  He has repeatedly said that he started out as a filmmaker by acting like one first.  So maybe that’s how you become a runner.  You get up every day, you put on your shoes, and you go.  Whether you feel like a runner or not every time, no matter the pace, if you’re behaving as a runner… It’s the old “if it walks like a duck and talks like duck bit,” right? And of course this can apply across the board in your life: to get that promotion, you act like the job you want.  To do anything that requires practice to become, you practice and then you are that thing.  Maybe it sneaks up on you in the middle of the night.

So the quote above has become kind of important.  I’m not fast. I’m not going very far. But I’m going.  Almost every day. That seems like something, maybe even something a runner might do.

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Mental Dominance.

Alpha Brain

Say hello to my friend, AlphaBrain.  AlphaBrain is a nootropic, or smart drug/brain enhancer.   I first heard about it courtesy of the Joe Rogan podcast ( this one with Aubrey Marcus is especially informative). It has a lot of stuff in it that I will let the website inform you about rather than try to put all the technicalities into my own words.  The basic idea: it makes your brain work better.  You’re supposed to dream better, focus better, think better.  Sign me up!

Since I started physical therapy, I have been on a medicine called Neurontin. It was supposed to help manage the problems I was having with my herniated disc hitting a nerve. I think it did that job pretty well, though it’s hard to tell what was helping, when and how between the PT and the medicine.  As one of it’s main purposes is helping people with epilepsy, it seems like a pretty serious drug and I was interested to come off of it as soon as I could. My intention was to come off of that and start taking AlphaBrain to try and clear my head.

The problem with the Neurontin was that I felt foggy. I felt like my brain wasn’t right. I felt like I was becoming more scatter-brained and forgetful. I also had a period of time where I was really irrationally angry and then I started to lose a lot of focus, especially with conversations. If you were talking to me, I might not have been able to focus very well on what you were saying.  I often had to piece together the conversation or just plain fake it to get by (sorry, friends). Overall, while I think that it helped my nerve/disc problem, it wasn’t helping my brain problem.

After about a week of no Neurontin, I ordered the AlphaBrain. It arrived a week ago today and I started taking it almost right away. The directions say 1-3 pills in the morning and then you may take more in the afternoon to up the lucid dreaming possibilities. I have stuck with 1 in the morning. I take it with my breakfast and other vitamins/supplements.  At first, I noticed increased memory of my dreams. I wouldn’t say they’re lucid or that they’re crazy or anything, but I remember them much more clearly for longer than I used to. I was kind of disappointed over the next couple of days. I had heard about all of these people who had gotten immediate, crazy effects from it. That’s what I wanted! It took me having a conversation about it the other day to really realize how it has been working…

My brain is much quicker to problem solve.  I received an email that really kind of discouraged me. Instead of staying in that mind frame, I started to figure out how to fix the problem.  I have also been in a really great mood for almost the entire week of taking it. Despite getting angry or discouraged during that time, I haven’t gotten stuck being down about it. That part has been quite the relief from my perpetually bad mood not that long ago.

I’m still waiting in hopes that it helps my focus. I do feel that it’s gotten better than it was, but I am still not where I would like to be. The same goes for memory. Small improvements are better than no improvements, but I could use a lot more!  I imagine that with continued use, the effects will settle in more.  I hope so. If nothing else, I’ll take what I’m getting and keep going with it.