My body is thankful for this respite.
My mind is not.
This is day one of tapering and I’m already going a bit stir-crazy!
Ultra training has been a very interesting process for me, one that has redefined my perceptions of my own strengths and weaknesses, and of my own likes and dislikes.
When DW and I decided to embark on this little quest of ours (and let’s face it, we were both thinking of it before we’d even completed our first marathon), we knew it would be quite different from anything we’d attempted before. I especially was quite dubious, as long distance was never my forte. You know, in the incredibly long running career I’d had in the previous 15 months.
I seemed to gravitate to shorter distances, since strength came much more easily than endurance. My job already had given me decently strong legs, so it was simply a matter of repurposing them. What proved to be a major cause of suffering was all my connective tissue. When it comes down to it, this is much more important in running. You can have all the strength in the world, but you won’t get anywhere if the stuff that holds you together breaks down. In my case, it seized up. Every tendon knotted up and my IT’s especially would inflame to where I couldn’t bend my knees. I had never asked my body to do anything like this before, so it didn’t know how to respond other than to just flip me the bird.
Eventually, though, the machine started to refine itself. It reached a balance of tensions that allowed me push forward a little at a time, ever stretching the existing boundaries. It became an exciting game, finding out how far I could push without too much of a recoil. There were a few mistakes, of course, but overall I believe it’s been a success so far.
Running is an allegory by its very nature. It’s an example of how to use what you’ve got to achieve what is required in the most dignified manner possible. John L. Parker described it in a passage I’ve loved since I first read it:
A runner is a miser, spending the pennies of his energy with great stinginess, constantly wanting to know how much he has spent and how much longer he will be expected to pay. He wants to be broke precisely the moment he no longer needs his coin
It doesn’t matter if you’re going full throttle for 400m or slow and steady for 100mi, the goal is the same. There is a job to be done and you have a certain amount of resources with which to do it. Life is a series of such situations. Tasks and respite, intensity and serenity. Energy allocation is the name of the game.
This upcoming race is at once a culmination of the fitness gains reaped from every step I’ve run and just a stepping stone on the way to something greater. Right now that something is a 50 mile race in a couple months, but I’d be lying if I told you all that I haven’t thought about what comes after that. In the grand picture, I have no idea how far I am going to have the resolve and desire to push this. For me, that underlying unknown frontier is what lends an air of excitement to every run. Every step is recognized as an in-the-moment experience in the context of a road to somewhere new.
Thank you all for being here, for always making me laugh and teaching me about something we all love. This place is an incredible source of entertainment, support, and camaraderie for countless people, myself included. I’m sorry if I’ve talked your ear off, or rather written your eyes out, but I’m just feeling unusually reflectory at the moment and thought I’d share.
After all, any non-running friends would have walked away by now!
Run with perspective and focus, Loopsters.