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Recensione libro: Running flow

Running flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Philip Latter and Christine Weinkauff Duranso

Human Kinetics

2017, pp.189

As long distance runner I know very well the difficulties to maintain the focus on my run, refreshing in the same time the kind of mood which represents the positive background where to design the pleasure to run also when I am mentally and physically tired. So I learned that what happens in those is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has called mental flow, the running flow.

For these reasons, I have been immediately captured by this book, Running flow, written by him with fellow psychologist Christine Weinkauff and running journalist and coach Philip Latter. It’s the first book devoted to this state of mind for runners, to learn how to reach and coach this mind condition and most important how to maintain it during the worst moments. Till some years ago, the flow experiences was studied only in the top level performances and it were described as something which happens spontaneously and difficult to replicate in a voluntary manner. Now we know, that it is something we can train through specific exercises not only to improve our performance but also, and maybe more important, to live more enjoyable experiences through the running.

“Flow refers to an optimal experience during which the mind and body work together while honed on a task. Flow is often associated with peak performance” (p.16). I remember when running 100km Ultramarathon “Il Passatore” I reached the 79°km and in that moment I started to think: “Ok; focus on the light of  your lamp in the road, and run till the end.”  I have had only this unique thought for the next 21km. For me this has been my flow experience. This is what it’s written in the book when the authors talk about the 9 components of flow (clear goals, challenge-skills balance, unambiguous feedback, focused attention, merging of action and awareness, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, distortion of time and intrinsic motivation). The first four dimensions represent the flow antecedents and the other six the outcomes of the flow process.

In the book, it’s well explained that the flow state it comes out when the athletes live a condition of optimal self-control associated to an efficient arousal level.

Csikszentmihalyi and his colleagues describe five ways through which one athlete is able to cultivate one’s self into an autotelic person: set goals with a clear and immediate feedback, become immersed in the particular activity, be focused to what is happening in the here and now, learn to enjoy immediate experience and proportion one’s skills to the challenge at hand.

In my opinion the strength of this book is evidently to be applied to one specific sport (long distance running) but the stories of the athletes and the practical information the runners can find to improve their focus and running with this state of mind are absolutely important.

 

 

 

 

Sono in Vietnam

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