Finding Perspective on the Run

AJW looks into how lessons about perspective changed his life and his running.

By on April 12, 2013 | Comments

AJWs TaproomOne of the most interesting teachers I had growing up was my high school art teacher. An Austrian immigrant and a complete perfectionist, Mr. Loundes was one of those teachers you didn’t know was a good teacher until you were finished taking his class. In contrast to many art teachers, Mr. Loundes was strict, formal, and had extremely high expectations. His most memorable lesson, at least from my point of view, was his lesson during a 2-D Art Class on perspective.

He started by having us take very close-up looks at a variety of simple scenes, he asked us to squint our eyes and put our faces within an inch of such things as balls, model airplanes, and dollhouses. Then, he asked us to slowly move away from the objects never losing sight of them and slowly opening our eyes fully while attempting not to blink. Finally, he asked us to sit and draw the objects to the best of our ability in five minutes. We did this same exercise for several days in a row before he began to have us delve more deeply into the science of perspective drawing. He provided us with formulas for understanding distance and light as well as a set of rules for determining proper perspective for square shapes, round shapes, and blended shapes. By the end of the lesson most of the class was able to successfully employ Mr. Loundes’ techniques and perspective drawing actually felt easy. For me, the lesson even changed the way I looked at things in the world as I now had a new framework for observation.

Ultramarathon training and racing has allowed me to expand on Mr. Loundes lessons on perspective. At times during the daily grind of training I feel like I am looking, squinty-eyed, into what I need to do to get in shape. On long weekend training runs I find that the horizon broadens and I see things about running and life that often elude me in the day-to-day. During my more intense training sessions on the track or in the hills I find perspective in the science of my body and the relative loftiness of my goals. And, while racing, the entire world opens up to me and the picture is made whole.

Certainly, while it is true that running in general can allow one to gain perspective on life and living it is also true that a good sense of perspective can lead to more healthy running. Sometimes the more organic, go-with-the-flow artistic approach is in order as it allows for the freedom of personal satisfaction and the growth of a positive attitude. On other occasions, a more mindful, scientific approach is required to provide structure and discipline to an otherwise profoundly primal activity. In the end, as Mr. Loundes always said in his perspective lessons, balance is key in comprehending the entire picture. Tipped too far to one side or the other and equilibrium is compromised. Ultimately, the science and the art of perspective drawing, ultrarunning, and life are simply dependent on a fine sense of balance.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Bear Republic - XP Pale AleWith the Lake Sonoma 50 on tap this weekend this week’s Beer of the Week has to come from Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg, CA. Bear Republic’s XP Pale Ale is a smooth, lower ABV alternative to their incredibly popular Racer 5 IPA, that is highly sessionable and particularly good with food. A classic American Pale Ale in the Sierra Nevada or Dale’s mold, XP Pale Ale is a great ultrarunner’s beer!

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  •  Where and when has a changed perspective lead to you finding better or healthier running? To a better life?
  • What’s the best beer brewed within 30 minutes of Healdsburg, California?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.