Apparently 2015 is over. I’ll spare you all the clichés because we’re all thinking them.
(It went by so fast!)
The year of the ultra
Miles ran: 1,337
Miles biked: 39.3
I learned a lot (hereafter: “brainchanged”) in 2015. I learned about running, injury prevention, and capabilities. I discovered again and again that I am capable of way more than I think at any given moment. This realization usually came in the form of physical capabilities, but conquering fear and building up to setting and slaying big goals rolled over into my life outside of running. Surprisingly I do, indeed, have a life outside of running. That life is usually informed and dictated by my training schedule, but I’m also ruled by a 40-hour workweek and all the stress and complications that come along with that. Then again, running helps me deal with that stress while also providing a much-needed creative boost in the form of being stuck inside my own brain for hours at a time. Running is like my life’s bookends.
I set a big, scary goal for last year: Run a 50k. While training for that race, I became addicted to the process. The race was amazing, sure. But the training is what comes to mind every time I think about it. Some time during that initial training, I decided that one 50k wouldn’t be enough for 2015; I wanted to run two. A few weeks after Gnaw Bone I chose Bell Ringer, set up my training plan, and got to work.
Through the training and the races, a big hurdle kept showing up again and again – a hurdle I’ve referred to as “the Darkness.” Some people call it “the Wall” or “the Blerch.” It’s all the same. It’s that feeling during a race or right before heading out the door to train at 5:00 a.m. in the freezing winter: “Why do I do this to myself? I don’t wanna no more.”
It can sound whiny, but it’s very real in the moment, and can be crushing. I had little breakthroughs here and there last year – little points of light that shone through when I faced the Darkness. When I think back on those moments on the trail when I wanted to quit and when I thought maybe long distance running wasn’t really worth pursuing, I realize that my next challenge is to pursue that Darkness and try to conquer it once and for all – except it’s not possible. I may be able to get stronger, fuel better, and train harder to delay that dark feeling, but I really think it will always show up at some point to make the miles stretch endlessly, magnify the pain and make any hill unbearable. I know it’s always going to show up because I know I will always push the envelope of my ability. I’ll always want to run farther, faster, up longer hills, and on more soul-crushing courses (I found one of these – and I’ll tell you about it soon!). It’s what gets me excited.
Bringing the badass.
I was listening to No Meat Athlete Radio a little while ago, and Doug and Matt touched on this very thing. Doug talked about how when there’s pain or despondency, it does no good to ignore it and try to push it down and make it go away. He had a term for it, but I don’t recall. You can listen to it and find out for yourself!
He talked about how it does no good to ignore it or to dwell on it. Rather, you should face it, acknowledge it, and then just let it go. This is something I found myself doing during Bell Ringer, without really realizing it.
I knew the soreness wouldn’t go away because I was not going to stop running.
I knew the fatigue wouldn’t go away because I was not going to stop running.
The dark thoughts, however, did go away – because I didn’t stop running. I kept going. I was doing great.
– I rang the bell.
So, that brings me to my 2016 goal. Yes, today, three weeks after the beginning of 2016, I’m going to tell you what my goal is. Sorry. I just got lazy with my blog – which is contrary to my goal.
My 2016 goal: Discipline.
I’m going to build that oft-neglected muscle of discipline. More on this later! I wanted to get this posted so I can get it out of my head and stop being lazy. So, until next week.