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Caution: Curves Ahead

2009 August 26
by Jess

On a Tangent

If you’re a runner and you read running magazines or training books then you’ve probably heard about running the tangent. Race courses are measured on the tangent. What is a tangent? Wikipedia states “the tangent line is going in the same direction as the curve, and in this sense it is the best straight-line approximation to the curve at that point”.

Curves Ahead.jpg

What? Let’s look to the USATF for a better explanation. Their Course Measurement and Certification Procedures Manual helps by explaining:

“A race course is defined by the shortest possible route that a runner could take and not be disqualified. A given runner might not follow the shortest possible route, just as a runner on a track may be forced to run further to pass another runner. The actual path of any given runner is irrelevant. The shortest possible route is a reasonably well-defined and unambiguous route that ensures all runners will run at least the stated race distance.”

That means if you aren’t running the measured distance of the race course then you’re running further than you planned. I know that on October 10th, I don’t want to run any further than I have to. Every second will count and I’ll need to run as close to 26.2 miles as possible.

Off on a Tangent

If you’re not a runner you’ve probably been on a different type of tangent. The free dictionary defines going off on a tangent as “to pursue a somewhat related or irrelevant course while neglecting the main subject.”  The other day Heather wrote a great post about her yoga instructor advising them to “stay in their own lane”. This is the same sort of thing I’m talking about.

I have a little trouble staying focused. Just ask my husband. My mind is full of a thousand thoughts at any given moment. I love it when he asks me what I’m thinking about. My answer goes something like this:

We need to go to the store and get tomatoes for tonight’s dinner… I really need more yoga in my life… the other day at work so and so was talking about heart rate training so I was thinking I should use my heart rate monitor while training, but then I thought about how I hate running accessories so maybe that’s not a good idea… but I need to take the clothes out of the washer… I thought maybe we could have soup for lunch? Why what were you thinking?”

His answer “that I want to go to Gray’s Papaya.”

every direction.jpg

You get the idea. I’m like this in too many areas of my life. I’m constantly moving from one idea to the next. I need to think about my main subject, stay focused and make sure that all paths lead to the finish line.

Do you have trouble staying focused on your main subject? What causes you to go off on a tangent?

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. August 26, 2009

    I have ADD, and I’ve had it for my whole life. Like you, I am constantly thinking about what needs to get done, what I am doing tomorrow, what I should buy, what I should make, who I need to call, etc. etc. etc. Nick asks me what I’m thinking a lot too. Sometimes I drive him nuts because we will be watching a show or movie and I make him stop because I was off in la la land for five minutes so I need him to explain what’s going on! Let’s just say we usually rent movies, no movie theaters :)
    I’ve gotten better through the years, much better, but it’s a never ending process to learn to stay in the moment.

  2. August 26, 2009

    I’ve been runner for quite some time and have run my fair share of races but have never heard of running the tangent. Thanks for introducing me to that term, I’m glad to know and have actually always wondered too.

    I don’t think I have trouble staying focused but I totally have my moments where I go totally random like that!

  3. August 27, 2009

    Haha I like this post. My cross country coach in high school was really big on running the tangents or running as close as possible to the inside of a curve. Even when he was driving, if there were 2 lanes in the same direction he would switch lanes to be on the inside and drive the shortest distance possible.

  4. August 28, 2009

    I have ADD so I have a major focus problem, my mind is always going from one thing to the next, which is probably a big issue with trying to get healthy since you really need to learn to focus.

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