Why I Run
Deciding to start writing regularly for a blog, came from the desire to share both more of my experiences running and travelling (which are now more often than not, a pair ), and encouragement from friends and people I’ve met to do just that. Why I run, is a good place to start.
If you meet someone who tells you that they ran a 10km, are training for a half-marathon, or did the Colour Run last weekend, the question of ‘why do you run’, doesn’t normally come up. My main focus is 100 mile mountain races, with marathons being the shortest races I currently run (and the rarest). As of 2016, most of my races are about 100kms long, in the mountains, and as such come with a decent amount of elevation. Telling someone that you are planning to run multiple 100km + events in a year, generally gets a response of reproach, or awe. This is something that is common for ultra-runners, and even provides somewhat of a comedic talking point. Regardless of the type of response, the next logical question is why would I choose to do this, and why would I want to do that multiple times a year. Most responses have a caveat which is something like ‘I am tired just thinking about that’, or ‘Driving 100 miles is far’. And 18 months ago, I probably would have had a similar response. I guess prior to that one moment that really captured my attention to ultra-running, I had heard of events that were longer than a marathon, but never really considered them to be anything attainable for what I would call a regular person. They seemed so far away, almost unattainable for anyone other than a handful of very genetically gifted and delusional people, with god-like powers that I would never possess. So when I hear that now, regardless of the tone, regardless of the judgement that often comes along with it, I smile and to a degree, I understand. For many, hearing about those races is something that is inspiring and motivating whilst far out of reach (at least in their mental framing), whilst for others, it confronts their insecurities, fears and doubts. No matter what the case, the core of my answer is almost always the same.
I run because I can. I run because one day I ran further than I ever had run before, and it was liberating. I run because now my average run, is longer than I ever thought I could run a few years ago. I run because I have doubts, fears, insecurities, and running gives me an opportunity to run AT them, not away from them. I run because it feels good, it’s natural, and because the moment I go outside, I’m free. I choose to run longer, and further than I ever thought possible, because I relish the PROCESS. I love a challenge, and the idea of running to and past the point to where the body begins to rapidly breakdown has a strange allure. Running TOWARDS suffering, pain, mental and physical exhaustion, not being able to eat, and past that, to this point of absolute clarity, peace, freedom, and to a point, immortality. To face every fear, demon, haunting memory, hardship, huge amounts of physical pain and to embrace those dark places your mind visits, and to get past all of that, is the most pure and satiating experience I can get. Every moment of suffering has a choice. To quote the Patagonia Running Campaign, I choose to #sufferbetter . With every step taken past the screaming voices to quit, to give up, I grow. Each time I ignore the doubts, and forge forward, a new purpose grows, and the completion is just part of a greater process. Of self-discovery, of growth, of humanity, of understanding, and of peace. Finding this place of serenity, takes hardship. And I choose that hardship, that challenge, because every-time I do, regardless of the RESULT, the PROCESS makes me a better person, cliché as it sounds. I run ultra-marathons (either in training or in races) because I am grateful for the amazing body I have, the amazing world I live in, and for the incredible opportunity to discover more about myself each time I undertake a seemingly insurmountable challenge. And I get to do this frequently, with some truly inspiring, amazing and beautiful people, whilst I explore some of the most stunning places that the natural world has to offer. The draw to the wilderness, is strong. The need to be outside, to be moving, to be free, calls constantly. And it is through ultra-running that I embrace that.
Whilst there is so much more I could write, I will finish with this quote, which North Face Athlete Stephanie Howe shared in her post-2015 Western States Blog.
“To run 100 miles is to push yourself to that place where you waver between delusion and sanity. Stripped down to nothing, bearing your soul.
Exposed. Raw. Real.
….And yet the will to continue, to persevere, endures. Quitting is not an option. And at the pinnacle of human suffering, where mind, body, and spirit are broken, you find ease.
And it’s beautiful….”
I run because I choose to. Because I can. Because when all the superficial layers that I wear in this world are stripped bare, I run because that space, those moments, those experiences, are where I get to connect to my true self. And that, is something I am always grateful for.