I had the Motley Crue classic, Shout at the Devil, on repeat in my head this morning. Not sure why. For some reason I’ve given a moratorium on the Crue since they finished touring. They’ll be back on my playlist soon, no doubt.
I’ve been running and training for ultra-distance events now for 5 years. By this point you’d think that I’d be pretty comfortable going out each day for a run. Well, that notion is further from the truth than you might think.
The trend I’m noticing is that it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour, on any given run, to get warmed up and comfortable enough to forge on. The first 15 minutes are absolute hell for me. To be honest I’m amazed that I have not yet succumbed to these voices and quit before I’m 5% into each run. Perhaps it’s discipline, or dedication, or straight up craziness! My mind goes full throttle on me telling me all the reasons why I suck, I’m not fast enough, I’m weak, I’m unworthy, I have shitty technique, amongst many other things. I cannot remember the last time when I started a run and I felt great, enjoying it from the very start.
Once those initial voices subside then I start the comparison game. I start telling myself that I need to be as fast as (insert elite ultra-runner name here) or I need to be running this hill at X-pace, having a picture of Anton Krupicka running in the Flatirons playing in my head, just dropping my ass and leaving me behind (note: I’ve never run or met Anton in my life, he’s certainly a role model for me in more ways than just his approach to running). After this annoying and useless narrative stops then I find myself working on breathing, the seemingly most simple, and complex, part of the sport, for me at least.
Once the 3 sets of 15 minutes of the mind playing tricks on me begins to fade away, I’m finally able to begin to enjoy the present and be grateful of where I am, on the trail of life. The battle in my head, shouting back at the demons that haunt me, is over. Now it’s time to just “be.”
My demons have nothing to do with running. They just happen to manifest themselves when I begin a physical activity. These demons are partially the result of years and years of conditioning about how I’ve thought of myself, constantly having the voice, perhaps the ego even, saying that I don’t belong. Certainly I do believe that I’ve had substantial growth in this regard, but there is still work to do. Maybe this work will never end – I hope anyways, because I’m really enjoying the process of self discovery.
Todays effort was a 19 miler in the Mac, and if I’m honest, I didn’t feel very good given the current high volume training block I’m entrenched in. So, today, I had those voices going against me for the better part of 3 hours. “Stop, Quit, You’re Slow, You’re not in shape, etc” were the narratives playing today. Around hour 3 on the final descent of the day, down Banzai, I stopped, and shouted back at the demons and voices to shut the hell up. And you know what? They stopped and I had the best 10 minutes of the day right at the end.
Again, my fears in life come out in everything I do, not just running. They come out as I’m building a business, when I sleep, when I eat, and when I’m around people. However, with running, I am more successful because of the built-in mechanism of meditation that I slip into. Being in a forest that is absolutely gorgeous during this time of year certainly helps, but it’s not a cure all. Rain, sun, heat, and cold are just the variables in the equation. The mind has been the constant that I still continue to battle every single day.
With that, tomorrow I’m pacing my best friend from college, Jeff Costello (#10) at his first attempt at a half marathon. I’m very excited to be a part of the experience. It’ll be nice to be of service and help someone else achieve their goal. In a lot of ways it’ll be a good chance to give me a reprieve from my own self. Can’t wait!!! Let’s tear this shit up # 10!