Infant Psychology for the Endurance Athlete

Sloan teaching us how to process our day

This story is part of a collection of humorous moments we found in the way back when archives. They have little to do with Alps’ mountain sports, but everything to do with the moments in between. We found them funny and wanted to share.

Summer 2008

Some years back we found ourselves regular babysitters for a toddler, Sloan. Her parents would drop her off and then head out for some non-parenting time.

I vividly remember one night when they brought her over, plopped her down on our bed, and said we could just let her lay there and squirm. They explained that it was time for her to, “process the day”. As one of her parents is a psychologist I accepted this as fact, and somehow it stayed with me. Today, it all came back as I headed out for my late morning run.

My own head was filled with fragmented thoughts; an issue of a stolen photo, marketing ideas, managing multiple businesses, learning another language, travel plans, etc… I think there was even a random Pearl Jam song as background noise. Internal chaos. The usual stuff.

As I entered the forest on singletrack, the external noise dropped away leaving me to my breathing and footsteps. My head was turning everything over, three seconds on this, two seconds on that, and so on and so on. Then it struck me. Sloan, on our bed, processing her day.

While I wasn’t horizontal and surrounded in pillows, I was churning along with both my legs and arms just as she did. It’s likely my face held a semi-blank stare at the trail ahead, just as she stared blankly at the Ikea light fixture on our ceiling. I realized that this time we give ourselves as athletes is critical for our development as adults, more so for our sanity in a busy society. Why should it be any different as adults? The individual endurance athlete who seeks solitude in their training is certainly also seeking the comfort that comes from being in their own peaceful world. Personally, I never return from my training in anything but a relaxed state of mind. I can leave agitated, but I always return centered.

By Dan Patitucci

Churning along & swinging our arms… sounds like trail running. Processing time!

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