Monday, April 16, 2012

The Red Queen Hypothesis and what runners and moms can learn from it!

'Well, in our country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.'

'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'


This quote comes from Lewis Carroll's book 'Through the Looking-Glas' and is called the Red Queen Hypothesis.

I applied this hypothesis to running, which leads to some interesting insights!

What does the Red Queen Hypothesis mean?

The world around us is contantly changing: our society, our technologies, our organizations, everything is in a constant state of flux. If you don't want to fall hopelessly behind, you have to move forward too and adjust to these rapid changes. You have to rún to stay in the same place, and to avoid never catching up again.

What does the Red Queen Hypothesis have to do with running?

I think there are parallels between the Red Queen Hypothesis and running: as a runner you have to keep on running to hold on to the physical benefits of running. Like weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, improved bone health, improved mood and better coordination. You have to use it or loose it. You have to run to stay in the same place both physically and mentally.

If you want to push your boundaries, and become a faster runner, or go further distances, you have to run faster and further. You have to run twice as hard to get there.

If a species stops developing itself chances are it will become extinct. When you stop developing yourself as a runner chances are you'll lose your motivation, and stop running altogether. The runner inside of you becomes extinct. This is one of many the reasons runners participate in races: it gives them a clear goal to move towards.

The Red Queen Hypothesis and motherhood

The same thing goes for moms: since your kids are constantly changing and developing, you have to adjust as a mom. Taking care of a toddler requires different skills than taking care of a teenager. You can't kiss the booboo of a teenager to make the pain go away!

As a runner I stay in place, as a mom I run twice as hard

As a runner I'm happy to stay where I am. I do not run twice as hard, to get anywhere else. I run five times a week because it makes me feel good, and to hold on to the physical benefits running offers me.

Staying in place is nót an option as a mom: I háve to move forward. Due to rapid technological changes and the internet I have to make sure I know about the effects of social media, about childhood obesity, about the effects of too much screentime etc.

So I'm both staying in place, and running twice as hard to move forward.

How about you?

2 comments:

  1. Such an inspirational post! I'm a fan of the Red Queen myself. She can be harsh most of the time, but most of the things she's saying and doing actually makes sense.

    This rule I believe also applies in marathon training programs as well, don't you think? Train twice as hard and keep an eye on the goal - that's the spirit and attitude every runner should have!

    Thanks for posting this!

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