Friday, 10 July 2015

Pause for thought

Recovery after a race should be all about basking in the glory of your achievement, taking it easy and letting your body rebuild itself. My recovery time coincided with a trip back home, giving me ample opportunity to take it easy and recharge my batteries. But it has also meant I've been living out of a suitcase. I haven't stopped to think about High Coast Ultra. About what it taught me. About the experiences I gained. About how it affected me and the way I see myself as a runner.

Sure, I talked about it with any friend who would ask me, but I did it in a detached way, like I was describing a movie I had seen or something I had read about in the paper. I told them about the demanding terrain and the weather and the people I'd met, and they nodded and made appropriate noises.

I told a good friend of mine about the race and she answered emphatically: ”Yeah, but that's a lot of kilometres”. Right there. That's when the penny dropped for me. She must have sensed in a way that I hadn't realised what I had done. She must have felt my detachment when I was telling her the story.

When I got back, I didn't rest. I immediately started thinking about my planned adventure to run on the King's trail in the mountains a day or two later. Onwards, forwards, ever moving, never stopping. Then, reports from the cabins in the area spoke of way too much snow left on the trail, rendering it impossible to run. My plans would have to wait for another year. All dressed up and nowhere to go.


I sat at home, watching the seemingly never-ending rain turn paths into rivers, and made new plans. I spoke to an ultrarunner friend about what my next (bigger, badder) ultra challenge should be. He suggested I join him for a race in September. I started looking at ways to get there. Reading about recovery between ultras. Wanting to take on a new goal with my whole heart.

But High Coast Ultra? Does that achievement not deserve any pause for thought on my part? And what about Rovön 6H three weeks before, when I ran 50K? Shouldn't now be the time to stop and enjoy the fact that all the hard work I put in last spring paid off, instead of instantly setting higher, tougher goals for myself? Is this really personal growth or is it number fixation?

Running in general and ultra running in particular has always been, for me, more about the journey and not the destination. The journey was a lot of fun but it stopped the minute I crossed the finish line, when it really should have gone on for days afterwards. I don't need confirmation that I can race a certain distance (although it's nice). I need reflection. I do it to find out more about myself. I do it to get out there and feel more in touch with nature. So what is it that makes those race sirens so seductive?

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