I worked as a hot tub maintenance person in a luxury forest lodge place, and I did it for four years. I stuck the job out for so long purely because I loved being in the outside in the woods.
And I got most of my joy in the early summer months when the leaves just burst out from their buds. There is always a week at the end of April or the beginning of May where it rains and the trees just burst out into colour in days.
This seems to have happened this week and it is lovely.
In the forest I worked in there were mainly beech trees and I had forgotten quite how much I loved those particular trees. I was reminded on this when I went for a run today and I ran straight through a wood full of beech trees.
It was raining today and the trunks were black and the leaves were the brightest green. The contrast was so beautiful and I could feel myself recharging as I ran. I miss that colour so much and I definitely need more of it.
I ran a really long way for a training run today. I dread the thought of going out for these runs but when I get going I quite enjoy the pain. And then, when I get home, that feeling of elation is just enough to make me fall in love with running again. Almost enough to make me consider signing up for another 100 miler….
It’s something primal, pumping up with every step,
The thump of blood that rushes through her ears
And tells her that this run will save her life.
The running’s not for fun, not to ease out gentle stress;
It is to strangle out the worst of her,
The painful spikes that festered for so long.
I think I’ve written about this before, but it plays on my mind so much that it deserves being written about over and over. I should probably write a book about it because it eats me up and quite literally hurts me.
I’m a runner. Not a great one, but a runner nonetheless. However, I find that every time I run, I get too angry to even breathe. I’m not even an angry person, but it seems to pour out of me when I’m running. It even makes me sometimes think I should stop. Why would I want to carry on something that literally makes me cry and feel like I can’t breathe.
Am I the only person in the world that loves something that causes me that much pain? Am I sick? Should I just give up? I’m exhausted, but I kind of crave that outpouring.
I’ve failed again. I set out to run 100 miles and I didn’t make it. I could make excuses that are valid (it was really cold, and I was being sick, and it is hard to keep going when you’re out on your own), but the truth of the matter is that I’m just not good enough at the moment.
And that really hurts to say that.
But, I’m learning with age that I’m not always going to ace everything. And I have to pick my battles. I can’t train to be a teacher and put the training in. Something has got to give. And unfortunately, at the moment, it is the running that has to drop.
It does remind of the times when I was a kid and swimming competitively though. I would heap so much pressure onto myself and then when I came up short I would be devastated. I remember crying so hard in the changing rooms after a race and just feeling like such a failure.
And a lot of the time it was because I’d also been studying really hard to get the best grades possible. I’d be exhausted and yet I wouldn’t give myself the break that I deserved.
The fact of the matter is that I’m not an Olympic athlete and it doesn’t matter if I don’t do well. This should be fun and I should be proud of the fact that I have made I ran 60 miles further than I would have this weekend.
If you’re feeling a bit crappy about your failings this week, do yourself a favour and treat yourself as you would treat others. Be kind.
I always do this thing where I sign up for something and then I wonder why the bloody hell I did it. I kind of want to do it but I don’t think about the pain involved when I sign the form and pay my money. Once it’s all signed and paid, I realise how stupid I have been.
This weekend I’ve signed up for yet another 100 mile run. I failed on the last attempt, only making it to 80. And I know in my heart of hearts that I’m going to hate almost every second of it. My ankles will swell and I’ll vomit until there’s nothing left in my stomach. It sounds horrendous because it is.
So, I’ve been spending a bit of time thinking about what my motivation is. Why do I sign up for things that are going to make me miserable? I think that the main reason id attention. The thrill of having people tell me that I’ve achieved something awesome is so great that I’m willing to put myself through hell to get a hit of it.
It’s pretty sad that I need that validation from people to make myself feel worthwhile. To think that there are people out there who can just live there lives and feel like they are enough. They don’t need to be doing things that will harm them to make themselves feel like a whole person.
One day I will have enough self confidence to just stop with this madness, but for now I guess I’m going to spend my weekend throwing up in various bushes. I’m just interested to know if anyone else does things like this to feel good about themselves. If you are like me, make sure you look after yourself. I don’t want you getting into any trouble!
Ugh, I’m writing my first academic essay in about a decade and I feel like my eyes are bleeding. I’m halfway and this has been a painful experience already. I can only imagine how terrible the second half will be.
I’ve done quite a few epic endurance events and I’m going to have to attack this in much the same way. It’s going to be a case of getting my head down and ignoring the pain. Just motor on; it doesn’t matter that you have stress fractures in your legs and you still have twenty miles to go. You just do it.
I just hope that I’m a little more disciplined than I was in my last 100 mile event as I bonked out at 80 miles. That is not an option this week. No bonking!
Even when it feels like you’ll never quite get there
Even if you never do get there
You’ll learn so much from the fall from grace
The errors you made
And the memories you’ll make
As you run through life.
So, I like to run. I’m not a very good runner, but I do love to see how far I can go. And the reason I’ve not written anything these last few days is because I was attempting a 100 mile run.
I haven’t done one in ages and I only put in a month’s training so my chances weren’t great, but I stood on the starting line and I gave it a go.
I got to 80 miles and I just ran out of steam and had to give up. I can make loads of excuses, but the truth of the matter is that I just hadn’t put the work in.
However, that doesn’t take the sting out of failing. I set out to run 100 miles and I only ran 80 and that really hurts. There is shame in having to drop out at a check point and I’ve felt crap all day.
But as I was driving home this afternoon, this Coldplay song came on and the first lines just really resonated with me. It reminded me that failure is a part of the human experience.
Every human has to fail at things and we can learn so much from the fails. My body is stronger for the run and I need to be proud for the distance I did do. I mean, who can say that they can run 80 miles? That’s a pretty cool achievement in itself.
So, my advice today would be to embrace those fails. I have a tonne of great memories that I’ll take from that run. I don’t need a medal to tell me that I did something impressive. And it’s put a fire in my belly to go again and get it done.
I’m running 100 miles next weekend and it’s something that I’ve done to myself several times before. And the question that I get asked the most is why do it to yourself?
I’m a big fan of the pain cave and so I’ve found myself running 100 milers and swimming the English Channel on multiple occasions. I have spent time while doing these wondering what on earth it was that made me sign up. What has made up to 300 people all stand on the start line with me?
There must be something that is enticing to these people. I met one person who was on their 197th hundred mile run so it’s not like these crazy people are doing it to see if they can complete the distance.
I’m writing this because I recently watched a film on YouTube that touched on the reason why and it struck a chord with me. The guy on the film said that doing these events takes us to a dark place, and it is only when we are in this dark place that we learn about our true selves.
He said that we can learn more about ourselves in a twenty four hour event than we can in years of normal life, and I found that so true. I can go through such a journey that it can make me feel euphoric and that is quite addictive for people like me.
It’s the lows (and the highs) that I feel during runs and swims that inspire me to write and to create and that can only be a beautiful thing.
I urge you to have a go at really pushing yourself at some point so that you can really see what kind of person you are. It might just be a 5k, but push yourself to do it and really embrace the pain and the discomfort. You (probably) won’t regret it.
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