Well we’re 3 weeks (and then some) into Stump Jump training with the RunWild group. Basically for the past 3 weeks, my schedule has looked like this:
Monday— continuance of my love/hate relationship with rest day
Tuesday— wake up dreading hill repeats; do hill repeats on the trail; think to myself “that wasn’t so bad”; run recovery run at the RunWild group; think “oh holy crap, there’s this morning’s workout”; feel sadistically happy watching everyone else run their hills
Wednesday— East Nasty run; feel Tuesday’s hill repeats yet still try and run with some of the fasties
Thursday–wake up dreading marathon pace run; do marathon pace run and in the middle of it, feel like a kid on the trails; quickly find myself suffering again (but in a good way)
Friday–recovery run or “the shuffle”
Saturday— long slow distance (or acid run) with the RunWild group; by far, my favorite run of the week
Sunday–another acid run; definitely not as fun as Saturday’s
And Rinse and Repeat. God, I love this stuff.
Yesterday morning, while out on the trails, I was trying to figure out what makes distance running/racing so fantastic. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Bruce Springsteen (and the E Street Band, of course). As I was running, a lyric from Springsteen’s “Badlands” popped into my head…”Poor man wanna be rich/Rich man wanna be king/King ain’t satisfied/Until he rules everything…I wanna find out what I got”.
The Boss’s point of how we as humans are never satisfied, how we always want more, more, more is an apt description of society– AND of the distance running community. Obviously, the need for more can be construed negatively as it relates to society; greed, gluttony, etc., generally aren’t considered admirable traits (If you’ve ever seen the movie Seven, you know this). However, this feeling of never being satisfied is what makes running so great.
Runners, and particularly those runners who race, are never happy–in a good way. Ask any runner how their workout or race was, and you rarely hear “Perfect”. There is always something that we wished we would have done differently– we shouldn’t have gone out too fast, we should have pushed it more at the end, we got lost (that’s usually just me). Even when we do have a good race, we still want more. More distance, more speed, a PR. This need for more is what drives us, what fuels us, what gives us purpose. For many of us, 5Ks lead to 10Ks which leads to 1/2s and then full marathons. Some crazies even thirst for greater distance… Others want to simply excel at a certain distance, and no PR time is low enough. Regardless of the focal point, wanting more out of our running lives is what keeps us going. Complacency is killer. Hunter brought up the GNC ad campaign “Beat Average”, and I think it’s spot on. How do we beat average? We run, we push ourselves, we feed that hunger inside of us. Why do we want to beat average? We want to be the best runner that we can be. We want to be the biggest bad ass out there. We want to rule the trail/road/track– whether it’s actual trail or the trail in our minds. No one wants to be average.* Mediocrity is depressing. Complacency is average.
For me, this drive for more starts small, like a flash or two of the thoughts “there has to be more,” “what else?”. I feel slight pangs of “what can I do now?”. These thoughts quickly grow into a deep belly hunger or a visceral need to push it, to do something else, “to find out what I got”. If this desire isn’t fed, it can escalate until I’m doing something “crazy” to quench it– like sign up for a 50 miler or contemplate strategies for a Western States 2016 campaign. Yeah, I’m obsessed and addicted. Yeah, I’m not ever satisfied, but I like the feeling of not being satisfied. I like always wanting more. It means I’ll always be striving for better, I’ll always want to be the best runner I can be, I’ll have that drive/desire/hunger to get out there day in and day out. It means I’ll always love this sport, I’ll always have a purpose within this sport, at least to myself. As a whole, insatiability can be detrimental, but when it comes to running, this insatiable appetite for more is what defines us runners, what makes us tick, what makes this sport so @#$%^&*@#$%^& fun.
*The great thing about running is it’s all relative. My average may be someone else’s great and that person’s average will be someone else’s peak. For instance, Jackson Miller’s (the fastest 36-year-old man in the state of TN for the mile) mediocrity differs wildly from mine.