Redefining Running (Part 2)

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In the first part of this topic we discussed the evolution of running and I highlighted some of newer aspects of our sport, which takes us beyond the typical run-for-health-or-exercise reasons to that of fun and competition. We explored this in the context of ultra running events for those of us who wanted to expand our horizons and push our limits; no longer accepting of the status quo or what it means to be the average runner.

I find this new push for endurance racing or running quite interesting, first because it indicates the presence of a relentless and demanding drive in our personalities that mirrors that of the competitive athlete: supremely confident and highly driven to achieve one’s personal best, and second, because now I’m curious about the extent of our drive for self-actualization in running: what does this mean for the future of running and how far can our desire for more take us?

While those questions are sure to set us a’wondering, it behooves us to consider how far we’ve progressed since the days of Pheidippides (our marathon namesake) and to see the evolution of running as the natural progression of a sport of passion, which brings us to my first point: the personality of the runner who determines that a marathon is no longer enough. I can safely say I identify since I know what it is to achieve your first marathon – the anticlimax of a build up of complex emotions: demanding physical and mental preparedness coupled with extreme psychological and physical adjustments. The finish line is now associated with time, medal and the next event. Crazy right. I recall completing my first marathon, was it only last year – deep in the bellies of pain – and there I was thinking of the next one, which was to be less than two months away, and the next, a month later. Now I’m at crossroads, considering my first ultra event next year. Sure I have set other goals along the way, like completing the World Marathon Majors and running some of the most amazing and toughest courses, however, now I have a new goal: completing a triathlon next year while vaguely in the distance I can detect the shaping up of an iron man. I have demanded of my mind to stop there though I suspect there are a lot more ideas buzzing around. In this instance, I find the challenge to be one of keeping focus on one goal at a time and not splitting oneself into various parts attempting to achieve different things. But it’s always right there on the periphery of my mind; what’s next, where to run, how can I get faster, be stronger, do better next time? For there is never a doubt that there will be a next time only a matter of when.

Many runners share this crazy passion, always on the look out for the next big race or event. Whether it’s cross-country, over trails and mountains, across ice, over rocks, through streams and in valleys, over five hours or a couple of days, I will go so far as to say we thrive on it; our aphrodisiac if you will – what stimulates and motivates us to being better people and better athletes. If you’ve ever faced the question of – why do you do it – then you know deep down that it’s as simple as, why not. The training, sacrifice, dedication, and various daily deprivations, that’s the hard part. Then again, it comes with the guarantee of an utter sense of fulfillment upon completion of each big one. So indeed, why not.

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