I’ve been thinking about writing this one for awhile, but life continues to roll on and priorities being what they are, it just hasn’t happened. This evening as I sat here trying to process more new information for work related duties over dinner, the idea once again came back into the forefront of my wee brain, so here we are.
People often look bewildered when I tell them about my love of running and even more so when they find out that I LIKE to run ultra distances. To those of you who read my blog but are not familiar with the term ultra-marathon, it means any distance more than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Now, just because I run these distances does not mean that it’s easy for me. It doesn’t mean that the miles do not exact their own price on my body while cleansing my mind and spirit. To the contrary in fact!
I’ve dealt with numerous pretty minor injuries (huge blisters, neuromas, muscle imbalance) along with the normal muscle soreness and the breathlessness that comes from trying to push a particular pace when the conditions dictate that the run should be nice and easy. I’ve been told that I will never medal, never come in first place, never have the physique to run long distances efficiently. Guess what? It hasn’t stopped me! Does it nag at me when people think they know what I should or should not do or tell me that I should just quit running? Sure it does. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I digress however!
What I really wanted to talk about are the similarities between running long distances and being in ANY long term relationship. You may be asking yourself, where in the world is she going with this? There are no similarities between these two activities! Ah, but I ask you to hang in there with me and I will endeavor to tell you, dear reader, that there are a few ways in which they are alike. They both require a commitment to stick to your guns when the initial passion to do so has long passed you by. They both have these hidden peaks and valleys that are often unseen until you suddenly come upon them, or they upon you. Both of these events require the ability to plan and yet be flexible enough to know when your plan has gone down the tubes and you’ll simply have to fly by the seat of your proverbial pants.
What do you think? Do you see it yet? Some call it discipline and commitment while others say that one must be a bit of a masochist to push your body, over and over again, in order to complete a long distance event. If you have ever been in a long term relationship, and I use the phrase long term rather loosely to mean any relationship that lasts more than a year, you know there is some degree of pain involved. As human beings we tend to be quite self centered at times and with this behavior comes pain, either our own or that of another person. During the initial infatuation phase you are absolutely entranced by all the passion and bliss; perhaps you even make a commitment to stay together “no matter what”. This happens when running long distance as well – I promise you it does!
You sign up for your race of choice, train your body relentlessly to perform at optimal levels and show up the morning of the big day primed and ready. Somewhere between that starting line and the eventual finish (for me this is generally somewhere after the halfway point) the creeping vines of ugliness and doubt find their way into your now tired body and mind. The infatuation and passion is ebbing, leaving you wondering what in the world you were thinking when you signed up for this fiasco! Now comes the test to see how committed you truly are to finish what you started. Will you struggle through being tired, hungry and perhaps even a bit grumpy in order to reach your goal? Will you be cross and ugly to the people who have been standing by to give you a hand and tell you that you really DO have the strength or will you grit your teeth, smile through the pain and keep on moving through it?
You move through each mile after mile (or milestone after milestone depending on your perspective) and then the path suddenly rises above you like a goliath. In your head you think that although you are able to move easily enough up this hill the first time, you sure hope that your body remains strong enough to climb it again…and again. How many of you have wondered how many times you can possibly have the exact same disagreement (usually of the heated variety) over the exact same issue with your significant other? Is this not like climbing a hill? What about the downhill portion of climbing? The argument is over and peace once more reigns supreme in your life….ahhhh. It’s like cruising downhill! Are you with me? Have you ran down a hill lately my friends? Let me tell you that it’s a freeing experience to feel your legs moving like pistons beneath your hips as the earth drops down and down. I’d say that with the wind in my face and a nice, even descent, it’s probably the closest I’ll come to flying!
Flying…..until you stub your toe on something and you go flying for real to complete the best ever belly flop on dry land! Hah! Were you expecting that? Did you plan to fall flat on your face, bloodying your knees like an eight year old on roller skates? The answer is probably NO but it happens all the time. As is the case in relationships. You’re running along, minding your own business and following your plan for life when all of a sudden something happens out of the blue and BAMMM there goes your perfect plans! Ugh! How many times has that happened? Okay, so now your well structured plan is garbage to be thrown away with the mornings’ coffee grounds. What will you do now? There comes a time when you have to make the choice to keep going the way you are, with bruised and bloodied knees or a broken heart along the same trajectory, or you have to change things up a bit. Flexibility is a valuable trait and not only for gymnasts and dancers apparently. Agreed?
The bottom line is that even big, ugly blisters drain and eventually heal. Bloodied knees and bruised egos also heal – eventually. Does one have to be a bit of a masochistic to run long distance and repeatedly push the envelope to see how far the human body CAN be pushed to the edge without teetering over? I say, that running 30, 50 or 100 miles in a go is not much different than being in a long term relationship. What do you think?
Until next time friends
~Peace and blessings