Tag Archives: sports psychology

Hello, I hate you

Joggling is like an express ticket to winning many admirers. Wherever you go, people will be impressed and will often compliment you and stare in amazement.

Unfortunately, not everyone reacts positively to joggling. Some people may even become extremely jealous or hateful toward you, especially if you happen to be a faster runner. And I don’t mean the people who say “you’re making me look bad”, I mean people who angrily denigrate you, or get this threatening look in their eyes.

People who don’t have the stomach for dealing with people like this find this makes it very difficult for them to joggle in areas with a lot of people. They are physically capable, but they are the shy, sensitive type and don’t like being the focus of hostile attention.

So how does one deal with this hostility? It’s important to realize that you are not responsible for some stranger on the street’s emotions. Unless you’re bumping into people or you hit someone with a ball, you’re not doing anything potentially harmful to anyone. Besides this, there are a lot of people out there who get angry over nothing. I even think some people may be addicted to their anger, and need to find something to get angry about. Some of these people may be suffering from some kind of mental disorder. Something is eating them up inside, and they direct it outward and personify it upon seeing you, as if you are somehow a “threat” to them.

It just seems so ridiculous. Really. Should you stop doing something you love just because some people may bristle with rage toward you? The best way to deal with jealous-types is to simply ignore them. It’s not important what other people think. And this isn’t just about joggling, this applies to just about anything.

How emotions influence athleticism

I’ve long wondered the degree to which our emotional state influences our athletic ability. Does anger help, or hurt us while running or playing sports? What about being a hopeful type of person?

I found some interesting information about this from the School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, UK:

We conducted three experiments to examine the relationships between emotions and subcomponents of performance. Experiment 1 revealed that anger was associated with enhanced gross muscular peak force performance but that happiness did not influence grammatical reasoning performance. Following Lazarus (1991, 2000a), we examined hope rather than happiness in Experiment 2. As hypothesized, hope yielded faster soccer-related reaction times in soccer players. Experiment 3 was an examination of extraversion as a moderator of the anger-performance relationship. When angry, extraverts’ peak force increased more than introverts’. Results are discussed and future research directions are offered in relation to Lazarus’s framework.

This is preliminary, but does this mean we should make ourselves angry if we want to improve our performance? Ah, but wait it seems anger helps extraverts more than introverts. So it looks like anger wouldn’t be of much use to someone like me. Hope also seems to help, but mostly with reaction time.

These are interesting findings, though it isn’t always easy to change our emotional state at will. Based on this, if you want to perform better, think of things that make you angry, but not too angry.

See what happens and report back to me.


IMG_0822Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which the senses become blended, from the Greek “syn”, meaning “together”, and “aisthesis”, meaning “sensation”. By calling it a “condition”, I don’t mean to imply it is a bad thing. In fact, it can be enthralling to some individuals, and if they are artists can help them be more creative.

In most people, the senses are separate and distinct. They hear, see, smell, taste, and feel. In a person with synesthesia, 2 or more senses can become blended, resulting in associating certain musical tones with certain colors, or associating certain smells with particular colors, or “tasting” music. There are various other interesting ways in which the senses are blended.

Here is some more background on synesthesia from Hubbard EM:

Synesthesia is an experience in which stimulation in one sensory or cognitive stream leads to associated experiences in a second, unstimulated stream. Although synesthesia is often referred to as a “neurological condition,” it is not listed in the DSM IV or the ICD classifications, as it generally does not interfere with normal daily functioning. However, its high prevalence rate (one in 23) means that synesthesia may be reported by patients who present with other psychiatric symptoms. In this review, I focus on recent research examining the neural basis of the two most intensively studied forms of synesthesia, grapheme –> color synesthesia and tone –> color synesthesia. These data suggest that these forms of synesthesia are elicited through anomalous activation of color-selective areas, perhaps in concert with hyperbinding mediated by the parietal cortex. I then turn to questions for future research and the implications of these models for other forms of synesthesia.

Since this is a very subjective experience, it is difficult to study. There is no way to officially “diagnose” it, and it’s not very common. I don’t believe I have it, but sometimes I think I experience very brief flashes of it or something similar. It’s certainly possible that synesthesia is a continuum phenomenon, meaning it may not be a simple matter of you have it or you don’t(similar to many mental illnesses, though again, synesthesia isn’t an illness). If this is the case, it means most people would fall somewhere in the continuum, with extreme synesthesia on one end and complete absence of it on the other.

It sounds like it can be a wonderful experience for some people, with many artists claiming to have it. But is it possible to become a synesthete(a person with synesthesia) with training? I don’t know for sure, but it looks like the answer is no.

This doesn’t mean we can’t improve our artistic abilities or our senses; synesthesia isn’t the same thing as artistic talent or artistic appreciation, but perhaps we can learn something from the experiences of synesthetes. Juggling makes me more appreciative of intricate movement and dance, but it doesn’t necessarily bring me closer to synesthesia.

Still, I strive to make my juggling both more artful(by singing, humming, using different color balls, or dancing while doing it) and more athletic. The synergism between the two makes the experience far more uplifting than if I was aiming at either one of the two alone. It’s fun trying to make music with the balls, sort of like I’m a wild symphony orchestra conductor, but using balls and my arms instead of a baton. Art and fitness always together, not alone.

Above all, there is so much beauty out there to appreciate, and beauty within us that needs to be expressed. Try releasing more of it next time you exercise and you may find yourself getting better results.

Experiencing ASMR

ASMR(autonomous sensory meridian response) is not a well-known phenomenon, but many people, including myself, claim to experience it on occasion.

What is ASMR? It is a strange, pleasurable tingling sensation that you feel mostly on the back of your head and neck, and sometimes along your spine. It usually happens in response to doing something you find very enjoyable. For some people it accompanies euphoria and is sometimes called a “braingasm” for this reason.

Since it is a very subjective experience, it is very difficult for science to study it. Indeed, this response wasn’t even known at all until many people who claim to experience it congregated over the Internet a few years ago and started websites and message boards devoted to exploring it.

Sometimes juggling brings about ASMR in me, especially if I finally figure out how to do a new trick. In fact, on long joggles I often experience it(it is related to, though not the same thing as “joggler’s high“), especially if I have beautiful music playing in my mind(I never listen to music from an mp3 player or anything during runs). It also helps if I am joggling through rocky, difficult terrain in a wooded area and have gorgeous untamed wilderness full of birdsong all around. It’s like merging into a divine symphony of nature, music, dance, and beauty all interwoven into one.

Music alone can also bring about this response in me, along with reading something inspiring, discovering something new, or a “eureka!” moment when I solve a complex problem. Sometimes finding bizarre links between completely unrelated subjects leads to this response. Certain types of sounds trigger it in many people, and there are even people who produce Youtube videos to help bring about this response in others. It feels sort of like a “bizarre euphoria”.

A good massage, certain aromas, or even exercising may also bring about ASMR. Dr Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale and head of the New England Skeptical Society suggests that ASMR may even be a pleasurable type of seizure:

Looking back as a neurologist I have wondered what they were. They could even have been little seizures. Seizures can be triggered by auditory stimuli. Perhaps ASMR is a type of seizure. Seizures can sometime be pleasurable, and can be triggered by these sorts of things.

You can read the rest of his post about ASMR here. His Neurologica blog is one of the best science blogs out there by the way, and I highly recommend it. As far as it being a type of seizure, I really have no clue, but I suppose it is possible and it vaguely feels like one.

Due to its subjective nature, many experts may even question if this response even exists. We’re all so different, so are all these different people who claim they are experiencing ASMR really experiencing ASMR? Will science figure out what this is all about?

Our peak experiences in life were likely accompanied by ASMR. Has anyone reading this experienced ASMR?

What goes through the mind of a joggler?

Besides how cool and awesome it is to joggle?

Contrary to what many might think, it doesn’t require deep concentration. The experience is somewhat meditative, but not really all that different from what goes through the mind of a runner. The juggling is almost totally automatic, although I may have to correct myself every now and then if my mind wanders or becomes distracted. Or if I am changing speed or doing tricks.

Rhythm is everything in joggling. The running is what sets the rhythm and the juggling follows it. It is almost like making music; I often have glorious music playing in my head(I never listen to recorded music while running), music which roughly fits the rhythm of my joggling. Sometimes I even hum or sing a little to give a melody to the rhythm. I rarely focus on the rhythm as closely as I used to. It’s there, but I only have to pay attention to it when I need to make adjustments. Beginners need to pay much closer attention.

Being one of the few people in the country who regularly joggles(there are none in my immediate area) adds a certain mystique to the activity, both for me and onlookers. Like I am just that much closer to unlocking the secrets of the universe. It is running meets esoterica, the next stage in evolution for running and fitness. Above all, it’s hard to not feel special while doing it.

But at the same time, I often feel it is rather mundane – it is just a type of exercise, that’s all. I’m just running with a little something added, it’s not like I am saving the world. It’s just that I am better coordinated than most, although to what degree this is genetic rather than due to training is difficult to figure out.

Joggling seems to makes life’s problems much smaller, much more so than mere running. It shrinks an angry elephant to the size of a mite. I believe it is the “joggler’s high” which accomplishes this. It adds magic to running, and beauty and stimulates parts of the mind that I didn’t know exist.

All this, from running with a little something added.