Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Left and Right Handedness...and Ultrarunning

The other day as the bride dropped me off on her way to work so I could do a run back to the house, I covered a different route that I had not been on for a couple months.  The roadside was replete with litter.  As I usually do, I grab glass bottles from the edges of the farmers' fields and drop them off at the next home's mailbox; the plastic bottles I ignore; and the aluminum cans I smash and carry back with me.

I drop the cans at a neighbor's house, a woman who gathers aluminum for recycling, and donates the proceeds to the American Cancer Society's local Relay for Life.

Well, since I had not been on this route in awhile, I quickly had more smashed cans than I could carry.  I dropped the surplus at a mailbox and brought about half a dozen cans to my neighbor.

Anyway, I got to thinking about carrying things, and handedness.  See, Utrarunners--unlike most road runners--frequently run while carrying stuff.  Usually we are talking water bottles or flashlights, but in my case it was beer cans.

The insight I had was that I noticed I tend to carry things in my non-dominant hand.  Thus, being righthanded, I carried the flattened beer cans in my left hand.  It just feels more natural.  And when I thought about how I carry a flashlight or water  bottle while trail running, it's also in my non-dominant (left) hand.

Perhaps it's an instinctive thing that we tend to leave our dominant hand open for emergencies, or maybe it's just a personal quirk with no greater significance.  But next time I carry something, I will make a concerted effort to change hands.  I have read that it helps in brain health to vary one's routines to establish new neural pathways.

My brain needs all the help it can get.


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