Sunday, April 18, 2010

Target vs. Field

Since my last post, Outside-What a place, I have been super mindful of my focus during running. I posted a short video last week, about nature deficit and toward the end of that video a reference was made about being target versus field focused.

In the spirit of Running Now, my name sake, of course, and being mindfully present while I run, I wanted it to be that I was always target focused, in which I am focused on something very, very specific. It's that kind of focus on anything that keeps a person present. Try pulling a kid away from a video game. That's target focused. Those kids are totally present in that experience and that's what I wanted for me as a presence.

Check out these two photos as an example for runners. Ask yourself which photo would be your field of view? The closer one, because you're tending to the technical slope, or the wide angle because you want to look at the creek and the rest of the forest?

Most likely, as I have found, it's both.

In leading some 5 Peaks Trail Clinics, I have really become aware of what I am thinking and doing while I run so I can share what I know. That thinking, it turns out, has shown me that I am often field focused as I run. This is how I take in smells, sounds, and the beauty around me. Most of us are field focused most of the time in life. Busy lives mean busy minds. For some reason I was a bit disappointed to realize how my mind was open to the field. In watching my nature deficit video again however, I recognized the positive nature of allowing your mind to shift from target to field and back again. The general focus is still running in the woods, for which I am entirely present, but I move in and out of my thinking as the terrain changes from technical to non-technical. The mind, according to Dr.Richard Louv, needs this kind of variable stimulation. In my own words, being too target focused will eventually become a strain on the brain, as will always being field focused. It is the balance between target and field focus that allows us to feel relaxed when we finish a run. As long as you don't go out and write a mental grocery list while running, you should feel a release from the rest of life when you're done. Think about this. When you start thinking about dinner or lunch while you're running, that often tells you the run is over. You have to Run Now.

1 comment:

  1. I'm doomed - I always think about food when out for a long run!

    Good post - I'm definitely more of a field 'runner'. If theres a stream rushing on the left or some snow capped mountains in the distance you can bet that I have spied it.

    But in saying that, I would also say that I was more of a focussed 'racer', and have often found myslef lost with this thought when focussed on every footfall blasting down technical trail.

    I guess different circumstances call for different focus.