Jun 3, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

The importance of Play


On June 14th 2015 I will run my second Ultra trail.

Technically I am not sure if it is actually an ultra since it is only 42km and somewhere I read that the definition for an ultra is 50km and up but nevertheless I am heading to the mountains for around 7 hours of FUN.

It started with me wanting a goal for my running training to keep my motivation going and also for trying something new. The first Ultra I did was the Japan 100Km Oxfam which was a team competition which we mainly walked. It was a great experience but I felt like I could not only go faster, I wanted to. Unfortunately injury came in the way and it has taken me 4 years to get back to this place.

But here I am!

Work is always busy and with 7 offices around Japan I end up travelling a lot. I am in fact writing this little piece sitting on the bullet train just between Tokyo and Nagoya listening to Native American flute music in my very over sized head phones.

When you travel this much training can become tricky to say the least. Not only are you tired from your body moving such vast distance but there are dinners and meetings and calls and everything else that drains your energy.

But I tried to find ways.

Around the old palace in Fukuoka for example there is a really technical  hidden little trail of about 3.5km which I would spurt around a couple of times in the morning before work.

In Osaka I got lost trying to follow one of the rivers and ended up doing a 2 hour run on concrete in minimalistic shoes without water.

So even though I could not be as hardcore as many and do 6 days per week I get my milage done.

And then now, 3 weeks before the event I am running I hit the wall.

It was like a depression coming on….Where before I could do 2 hours before work at a normal pace now I would have to dig deep after 30 minutes even to go on.

What happened to me?

Why is my body and mind responding this way?

These kind of thoughts were spinning in my head for about a week while I pushed myself to at least do 45 minutes on the treadmill to not lose all the muscle I have built up during these last 3 months.

Then I was invited to a speech by Dr. Enio Ohmaye who is the chief learning officer at EF labs in Shanghai.

Dr. Enio is a fantastic speaker with an impressive background which I will not go into here.

He talked about how we learn and how that differs from how animals learn and the development cycle we go through. He talked about language as a tool and the importance of English.

But most importantly, he talked about Play.

How if you are playing you are constantly learning and you never get bored.

How play, according to his definition, is the opposite of depression.

It was like a light came on inside my head

After 3 months of working out hard and pushing myself and my limits I had stopped playing. Running had become like the most boring work chore you could ever imagine. It had turned from “The thing I enjoy doing” to “The thing I have to do”

The next day I immediately ran 90 minutes with energy to spare.

So if motivation is the only limit to the tings we can achieve and if playing more, both at work and in life, will keep me motivated.

Then let’s get playing!

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