"Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being -- a call that asks who they are ..." (David Blaikie).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Distance Lends Perspective

Phoenix, Arizona: 118 degrees Fahrenheit and humid.  Yes, it does get humid in the desert.   Boohoo.

Last month I was lucky enough to run in Colorado for a week.  The altitude, in certain areas, slightly affected me (at 9,000+ ft) but the cool air made it easy to breathe.  I have run every day (1.5 miles or more) since July 11th when I was cleared from the Doc that I could, once again, run again.  I had not run a single mile since the end of February 2012 and had not run before that since my Javelina 12 Hour Night run in October of 2011 in which I ran a 50K.

I know...doesn't sound like me, does it?  I was granted clarity once I started running consistently again: I was depressed, anxious, manic, crazy, and just 'not myself' from October until mid-July once I put on my running shoes again.  In that long eight month window, I found myself sitting in a psychologist's office, on a psychiatrist's fluffy couch (yes, just like the movies), and searching for answers as to why I felt so horrible about myself, and about life in general.

If you know me well, you know I am the poster girl for "all-or-nothing" approaches.  I thank my dad for that characteristic.  We both get addicted to something and go all-out...then get burnt out.  I never ever thought I would feel that way about running.  And I am not sure what the turning point was when I decided to stop, if it was even a conscious decision.  At any rate, I am looking at that time as cold hard evidence that I absolutely must have a release of endorphins every day...sometimes more than once per day.

My reputation as that all-or-nothing runner has been a challenge.  I ran with a good friend this morning outside in the August Arizona heat.  3.4 miles.  Nothing exciting at all, but an accomplishment that should be acknowledged by my mind.  We ran into a mutual friend who laughed and said something along the lines of "a little over 3 miles?  That's it?!"  I quickly felt panicked and felt the gut wrenching feeling of failure brewing in my brain, but I quickly explained myself...I told her that I am working on being content with the mileage ran, and not think less of it.  In the past, I would have NOT run because it was not some ridiculous amount of mileage.  I have been running for twenty-three years.  I have to go back and remember my first 5K when I was nine or ten years old and how challenging it was and how proud I was of myself for finishing it.  Now 32 years old, I still need to celebrate the little victories each day.

Yesterday, I ran a mile on the treadmill with another great friend.  She doesn't hate to run, but she doesn't love it either.  The thought came to me that running just a single mile each day tacks on an extra 70 minutes of exercising to the week.  The old mentality I had would have scoffed and not 'wasted my time' on a measly mile.  It was another victory...

One more insight I have gained is that I had trained myself to run destructively from age 14 until...well, now.  I had always run to gain clarity, and peace of mind, but I also had that dark secret of the REAL reason I was running...to  burn off energy and feel helpless and weak at the end of the day only to collapse in bed and wake up ready to do it all over again.  Now...I am in search of learning to properly fuel my body to run and feel great before, during, and after.   I have been blessed with the ability to just get up and run for...well, I have been known to take long breaks, then take off and run a marathon without training.  I could genuinely run forever if I were fueled properly...slow, but efficient.

So...I am searching for the proper balance.  Since I started running again, I have been trying different ways of 'keeping track' of food.  Counting calories frightens me.  Looking at macro nutrients confuses me.  Just going by how I 'feel' is just a really bad idea.  I go a few days staying 'on track', then I realize (suddenly...usually at night...) that I haven't been eating enough then, like a bomb, an impulse sets off in my brain that I MUST. HAVE. FOOD. NOW. and lots of it.

My goal in all of this is to be able to run the Keys100 miler again in 2013 with a better understanding of WHY I am doing it and a better grasp of how I am fueling myself.  Fuel is key.  Duh.

Well, that is all for now...I will do a better job staying up-to-date on my ideas and personal discovery.

I will leave you with this really ironic quote that sums up D. all of the above.

"Distance Lends Perspective..."  (not sure who said it!)