Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Why do I run and what do you do after 100kms?

I never thought I’d be the one to write ANYTHING about the “pleasures” of running. And I’m not being flippant here, but only a few short years ago the concept of pleasure and exercise being written in the same sentence was a foreign concept to me.

Of course I’m now a different person, as a lot of my previous blog posts point out I am in no way a fast runner, I’ll never be competitive in a race style format, but where I am competitive is in beating my own demons, pushing myself either faster, harder or further, doing runs up hills, whilst howling winds prevail, whilst it rains. All of these examples are part of my greater mental and physical development.

As I mentioned in my post Cadbury marathon blog entry, the training and the event itself took great psychological as well as physical training. Those mental aspects are something you can take into your broader everyday life, and I can guarantee you the lead up as well as the participation in the 100km trailwalk event took mental stamina the size of which I had not conquered before. I must have had about five or six instances where I thought long and hard about pulling out of the event – at no stage were any of these doubts physically related, they were more about the extraordinary commitment of time and effort, arranging charity events, being the sole conduit back into the organisers, and a number of other issues. What actually transpired after those periods of doubt was a serious self-talk about the fact that I had enormous support, both financially and physically, by other close friends, family and colleagues. We also had raised close to $7,000 for people who are significantly less fortunate than myself, so what was a few internal conflicts compared to the potential gift we would be giving others?

So what has this massive preamble have to do with the simple pleasures of running? I think it's more the aspect of running being a selfish pursuit, it is generally not team based, you run for your own reasons alone. As mentioned above I do it to push myself, to challenge myself, to undertake another journey of self-discovery, to change my perspectives, my priorities, my possibilities. Me, me, me – a tad selfish really.

But interestingly enough I also enjoy the ability to work with others who are starting their own journey or need help somewhere along the way of their long lived experience. I love being able to offer some assistance to anybody out there who is discovering their own pleasures in running, when I first started I received heaps of encouragement (and continue to do so) and I now think that I personally have a duty to offer somebody else the same sort of support somebody once offered me. So a pair of shorts, a pair of socks, a top (not mandatory) and a pair of runners and all of a sudden I’m a different human being – quite a transformation I suppose.

This leads me to my next challenge – I was intending to run the Barossa Marathon on 26 May however the recovery from Trailwalker has not been ideal so that idea was replaced with the plan to run the half marathon at the same event. In the last few weeks I have slowly started the training and again putting more miles into the legs to get me to that event, even though a 5km run 7 days after the 100km exertions was probably one of the hardest I’ve ever conquered. This time around though, the training is purely a physical challenge as I can guarantee you 100% if you can run a full marathon or if you can walk 100kms (on trails) without a break, you have the mental toughness and stamina required to pump out 21 kms, it is now simply a case of my body being able to follow the head. But to be honest the individuality of running, the ability to push yourself and only yourself is probably a bit too lonely a pursuit for me to be heading 729kms by road to punch out a 21km run. The camaraderie will not be there – not saying I won’t know anybody there, I actually will, but that joint journey of discovery, the sense of achieving something together won’t be - so that venue’s off the agenda too. Why waste your time experiencing something if you’re not going to enjoy it, celebrate it? Better planning in 2014 will see me in the Barossa for a few days, sampling the local produce and relaxing beside a pool after knocking over 42kms amongst the autumn leaves on the vines.

Interim plans now consist of the Emer Casey Foundation fun run around Monash University in Clayton, an event that I ran in last year and one that is asymmetrical opposite of “selfish”, an event where funds are raised for Ovarian Cancer Research, where there are people lining the route laughing and cheering you on in a community sense, where bands mingle with the runners playing lively Irish tunes, where you finish to the smells of a communal BBQ, where a sense of doing this for somebody else is the prime driver.  Yep I’m revisiting my roots again, and going back to the simple pleasures of why I run.

The following weekend I’ll take that another step further and take on a small part of the Mt Macedon event (probably 10kms, but maybe 30kms), yep another trail event, again for the simple pleasures. Back in November I ran the half marathon at Marysville (the small mountain community devastated by bushfires back in 2009) and reading my post from that event I wrote that “the fun was out of this world, the community feel, the friendliness, the scenery, the trails, the whole weekend was an amazing experience”. So I’m going to do my best, with a bunch of close running friends, to relive that experience – yes I’m going to simply enjoy the running.

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