2.4 mile swim. 112 mile cycle. 26.2 mile run. The athletes look more like spiders as we are shown a video of Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham crawling across the finishing line of the 1997 Ironman Triathlon. The women push themselves past exhaustion to the point where their legs will no longer carry them. Their mental strength and determination lumps them over the line where they collapse, limbs twisted.
10 kilometres. Equations for a Moving Body questions the link between our physiological and psychological selves as Hannah Nicklin explains the journey of pushing herself mentally and physically to her limits to run the full-length triathlon.
5 kilometres. Nicklin teaches us about the idea of the storied self, that we construct our identities and prioritise what is important in order to be able to define and understand ourselves. Theologian Frederick Buechner says that without it, ‘we run the risk of losing who we truly and fully are’. Nicklin says, ‘I am a swimmer’. By defining ourselves by our activities we can create goals, attempting to make our stories better. But Sartre argues that this can be dangerous, as a man might ‘live his life as if he were telling a story’, separated from the reality of his life.
1 kilometer. Motivation, a key quality for athletes, can be divided into two categories. Intrinsic motivation engages because it is personally rewarding, e.g. fun or exciting, while extrinsic motivation engages because it is outwardly rewarding e.g. you win a medal. Whilst undergoing intrinsically rewarding activity, Nicklin explains that we are in the ‘flow’ and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes flow creates longer term rewards as ‘you're going to keep learning as you move up and so you are in this lifelong learning mode’.
100 metres. It is not only the mind that needs to be worked but also the heart. The heart is a muscle, one that in literature as well as science has always been linked with both emotion and physical functioning. Exercise is often used as a therapy get over heartbreak, partly because it releases endorphins to the brain creating what’s called a ‘runner’s high’. Nicklin shows us the cathartic qualities of sport as she reconnects with lost loved ones through the skills that they taught and shared with her.
10 metres. Through explaining the psychological and physical theories of endurance, and through sharing her stories of heartbreak and limb ache, Nicklin lays out what is needed to make a body move. These include a tight support network, a heart broken then patched back together and a mind that is able to power your body when your limbs no longer want to move.
Equations for a Moving Body is on at 11.00 at Northern Stage at Summerhall until August 27th (not 24th). Wheelchair Access, Level Access - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/equations-for-a-moving-body
The science of endurance: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/chasing-pheidippides-the-science-of-endurance
How exercise helps mourning/grieving: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/06/27/exercise-grief.aspx
Book by fastest female triathlon competitor: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Without-Limits-Chrissie-Wellington/dp/1780338716
Running through heartbreak (how to lose weight in 4 easy steps): https://medium.com/@AaronBleyaert/how-to-lose-weight-in-4-easy-steps-1f135f7e1dec#.xin13waze
What the body goes through when running a triathlon: http://triathlon.competitor.com/2013/04/training/a-physiological-view-of-what-the-human-body-goes-through-in-an-ironman-2_46170
Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham, The Crawl 1997: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTn1v5TGK_w
Triathlon distances: https://totaltriathlon.com/triathlon-distances
The anatomy of the heart: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~sjjgsca/MuscleCardiac.html
'5 reasons running makes you happier': http://www.active.com/running/articles/5-reasons-running-makes-you-happier