Sunday, September 18, 2011


in-de-fat-i-ga-ble adjective: unable to be tired or fatigued.

In my book that I read yesterday in preparation for comps (just under 6 weeks to go, if you're keeping track), So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke: The Beguin Heretics of Languedoc, the author Louise Berhman used the word indefatigable several times to discuss the relentless attitude of this religious movement.

I kept saying it to myself - in part to get the pronunciation correct (it's hard, right?), and in part because I couldn't stop thinking about its meaning.

I like that word a lot, and I wonder if sometimes we are called on to be indefatigable.  We practice and practice running, doing long runs, tempo runs, intervals that get faster and faster with each subsequent lap, in the hopes that even as the hours and miles pass, we will not tire.   We seek to find the perfect balance in challenging ourselves and improving our threshold, but at the same time not allowing ourselves to burn out from the intensity.  It is not easy.

I am trying to carry on in an indefatigable way in my comps preparation.  I have been reading a book a day for, well, a while now.  I have 15 books left, which puts me right on track to finish reading with 3 weeks to just review.  Now, I love reading - obviously.  I have picked a profession where that is one of the main tasks.  I find myself very fortunate that a regular, normal part of my life involve picking up a book, and getting lost in a world that is new and exciting.  But is also hard to keep my attuned to the subtle differences in books on the same field and retain the arguments of each book (of over 100 of them for this test).  I feel like I have created an entire filing system in my brain, and right now, there are a lot of filing cabinets!  But I am pressing on.

It is like I am in the midst of marathon training.  Heavy volume (quite literally - these are big books!), double days, just lots of time being put in.  There is that one month of marathon training that pushes you harder than any other time.  That is this month in terms of my comps preparation.
We'll look at this week as an example:

Monday, September 12th : 30 minutes on elliptical, weights, strength, core
Sisters and brothers of the common life : the Devotio Moderna and the world of the later Middle Ages
Tuesday, September 13th : 2.5 mile warm-up; 6 x 150 meter strides; 6x 1200 meters; start at 5:12 and cut down 3-5 seconds per interval; 400 meter jog between each interval; 2.5 mile cool-down.  Total: 11.25 miles
The Laity in the Middle Ages: Religious Beliefs and Devotional Practice
Wednesday, September 14th  : 30 minutes on bike, weights, strength, core
start Possible Lives
Thursday, September 15th : 8 miles easy
finish Possible Lives: Authors and Saints in Renaissance Italy
Friday, September 16th  : weights, strength, core
Literacy in Lombard Italy c. 568-774
Saturday, September 17th : 2 mile warm-up; 6 mile tempo, 2 mile cool-down.  Total: 10 miles
The Last Days of the Renaissance
So Great a Light, So Great a Smoke: The Beguin Heretics of Languedoc
Sunday, September 18th : 15.6 miles easy AM, 3.4 miles easy PM
Images of the Educational Traveler in Early Modern England
start Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture

Weekly Totals: 48 miles, c. 180 minutes cross-training, 7 books and counting

Held on strong this week.  Lots of reading, lots of running.  Will try to stay indefatigable for another week!

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