Why Do You Run? Revisit The Age Old Question

I’ve revisited this so often I’m not even sure if my reasons are changing in any way.  I run to feel human.

To get in touch with that part of me that exists but can truly be on show when I’m out and running. 

I run so I can be myself and not a version of me that is socially acceptable. 

 

You only know if it’s doable if you try. ive looked at the collapsed face of Mam Tor many a time and wandered if i can go up it. i guess the answer is yes

 
    
  

Im a little shocked by the difference in foot position between me and the guy behind!

  

 

I stopped after 2 miles and took off my shoes. Running just didnt feel as light and easy with them on.

 

The Mam Tor, Loose hill ridge. A glorious running place.

  

A quick bask in the sheer awesomeness of running up a gorge.

 

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Planning The Next Adventure

There are protocols and rules to follow when planning any adventure, but I have no idea what thy are so I’m kinda making it up as I go along.

The steps seem to be:

  • Write down (decide) what the adventure is going to be.
  • Research the place – visits, other people’s adventures and books are great for this
  • Workout how to get to the location and the start of the adventure
  • Workout how to get back
  • Plan the route
  • Gather and test the equipment
  • Sort out food and water
  • Go adventure

So here’s step one..

I’m planning on running (in my usually shonkily shod fashion) either Coast to Coast in Iceland, the circumference of Iceland or a similar thing to the UK’s LeJog (furthest south easterly point to the furthest north westerly point in the case of Iceland).

Now I need to get my self a guide book on the trails and a while load of maps.  Let the fun begin ūüôā

Shoes Optional ‚Äď A barefoot runner‚Äôs journey along the length of Britain ‚Äď Introduction

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Within these posts you will find no hidden secrets, no magical formulae and no recipes for adventure.  Instead you will read about one person’s journey and their realization that there are no limits other than the ones we set ourselves and it is these limits that hold us back.  We pander to the softer side of our nature, seeking the easiest route through life’s.  At some point we must realise that this is not the way to be true to our nature.  It is as important to embrace and invite discomfort, as it is to invite challenge.   Without these, how are we to grow?

 

An Unexpected Post From LeJog

 

"It's a long road to wisdom and a short one to being ignored" The Lumineers

“It’s a long road to wisdom and a short one to being ignored” The Lumineers

At some point along running the length of the UK I typed this. ¬†It was on Day 24 apparently, but I have no real recollection of where I was or why I didn’t post it. ¬†I only happened to find it because I peaked at the draft posts I have to see if I could finish any of them and reduce the backlog of typing. ¬†So instead of reducing the backlog, I’m sharing a random and typically philosophical set of words.

DAY 24

At some point, we all realise what we are supposed to have done long ago. ¬†It doesn’t matter that you didn’t do it earlier and it doesn’t matter that you have nothing to say or no way to express what it is that you are experiencing. ¬†If only the lack of words¬†was because I’d reached that fabled place called wisdom.

“A wise man speaks little and says lots. A foolish man speaks lots and says little.”

Adventure Begins With A Road Trip

Justgiving.com/barefootlejog

 Feeling slightly worse for wear after some celebratory “schools out” drinks, but at least there’s good company along the way and since I’m not driving, plenty of time for catching up on missed sleep.  

It seems I’m currently stuck between excited and nervous, which appears to be a strangely calm location.  First day needs to be gotten out the way, but for now I’m planning on enjoying myself.

Have to say thanks to Adam and Rooth for being Adam and Rooth.  Possibly the best two people I have the pleasure of knowing ūüôā

Acknowledge To Avoid

Justgiving.com/barefootlejog

It’s all too easy to fall into a hole. ¬†Sometimes, we don’t even realise that it’s happening until it’s too late and all that is ahead of us is a slow, hard climb out.

Part of the process seems to be to acknowledge where you are or where you’re heading before you get there. ¬†Everyone has moments where they realise that actually, everything isn’t ok, and part of the journey has been how to deal with this, avoid it and manage when your there.

Here’s what I’ve found helps, and although it is purely a personal thing, contains no magic bullets or new strategies, sometimes it helps to have someone repeat what you already know. ¬†So, for what its worth here they are:

  1. Learn not lie – this isn’t just to others but also to yourself. ¬†We know instinctively when things aren’t quite right and all to often we push on, making a small piece of grit in our metaphoric shoe into a giant jagged rock.
  2. Acknowledge it if its unavoidable – sometimes, situations, poor planning, bad luck and distractions take us places we really don’t want to be. ¬†Acknowledgement, in a matter of fact way is often the only way out.
  3. Just pause, look and absorb РThis is probably the simplest way to deal with a low point.  We miss so much when that low point hits.  Tunnel vision kicks in, our brains focus on the wrong things and we lose that ability to be aware of our surroundings and actually appreciate where we are.
  4. Smile – Stopping and smilling for no reason at all is odd at the best of times, but combine it with a random laugh and its like rocket fuel! ¬†It’s almost like a reset switch that puts everything back on the right track.
  5. Be ready to fail – Now this is an interesting one for me. ¬†Samurai and martial artist are instructed to fight as though they are already dead, removing that fear of dying and allowing them to act without hesitation. ¬†those negative thoughts of failure are like tiny grains of sand in that same metaphorical shoe. ¬†They continue an imperceptible grind and then you notice a huge tear that wasn’t there before, all from the constant low level nagging. ¬†Acknowledge the failure and be ready to deal with it and then use it to make you mentally stronger and ready for a rematch

Like I said earlier, I don’t believe any of this is actually in any way new, groundbreaking or a¬†magic bullet. ¬†It doesn’t even apply purely to running, but hopefully it acts as a memory jogger and that little kick for someone who needs it.

9 days to go…..

The 21 Day Countdown

Justgiving.com/barefootlejog

  
There’s three weeks left to go, ¬£2647 raised and 1,280 miles and 144,000ft of ascent completed in training. 

Right now I have a nice view up on a hill somewhere between Buxton and Belper, making my way to the Derwent River relays.   The sun is warming up for a spectacular display, I’m about to make a tea and get ready for pitch up and get some sleep before an early start in the morning.  

Hope your weekend starts as pleasantly as mine seems to be ūüôā

Support Package Curtosy Of Backpackinglight – Big Thanks To @bpl_uk For The Support

Package arrived at work today and inside was some donated camping gear from backpackinglight.

First surprise is how light the box is!  Surely they forgot to post the tent?

Inside was a nice hand written note, a packet of Skittles and then some camping goodies.

Here’s what Bob from backpackinglight sent:

  • Vaude Lizard GUL – ultra light 3 season tent weighing in at 690g!!
  • Titanium spirit burner – super light way of getting a warm mean cooked.
  • The Pocket Stove – titanium multi-fuel stove that’s going to really come into its own along the moors and the highlands.
  • Thermatrex blanket – these light blankets will reflect 75% of your body heat back at you.  Effectively I can up the warmth of a super light and thin sleeping bag without adding lots of weight to it.
  • Skittles – essential fuel, except this hasn’t made it past the first 5 minutes!

I can’t thank them enough for this equipment, but I also have to say a big thanks to Peter Ambrose for initiating the communication with them.  If it wasn’t for his initial email, the following conversations and then offer of support just wouldn’t have happened.  

Approaching the 3 week mark ūüėä

Sleep Deprived Musings Of An Ultra Runner

As teachers, we encourage reflective thought in our students.  We are encouraged to be reflective practitioners with our teaching and continually review, refresh or improve out practice.

The weekends adventures (all be it, joining and supporting someone else’s adventure), and the looming start of my challenge (26th of July) has given me some time to think. ¬†A couple of things kept cropping up during the run in random conversations.

1. ¬†People don’t understand why

This is a common thing said by fell and ultra runners.  People find it difficult to comprehend the reason behind what we do as runners.  The distances are hard to comprehend, the lack of sleep, need for food and the persistent forward motion are also tricky to grasp.  Why would someone give up comforts for such a mundane activity?

I’ve thought long and hard about this, not being happy with the “if you are asking you won’t understand” response. ¬†It seems (for me anyway) to stem from a love of the elegance of it all. ¬†To be able to navigate through empty landscapes, cross vast expanses of land and scale mountains¬†with an¬†air of effortlessness, is just simply put, graceful. ¬†There is something of the greek myths and legends about the people who take on these journeys, were even failure to complete a challenge becomes a victory in itself. ¬†Simply completing one of these endurance challenges wouldn’t be enough for someone to understand the reasons why for one simple reason…

The reasons why is ephemeral, and shifts.  What begins as a way of digging yourself out of a dark hole changes into a myriad of colourful reasons, with only one common theme.  A persistent drive to move forwards.  It seems for me the only common theme to my reasons for  taking on these challenges is seeking a simplicity in my existence.  A way to constantly redirect those inner demons that slow my development as a person.

2.  What are you running from?

Often disguised as the question ‘why do you run?’ or “why did you start running?”, the question is still the same. ¬†What is it that you run away from?

The reasons are personal, but they seem to be variations on a theme. ¬†Most people run because they realise that they aren’t happy with themselves, whether it is their weight or bad habits. ¬†I started running to overcome a low point, where happiness was something fleeting, but now I simply run to be. ¬†Not to see if I can run further, not to hide problems that I don’t want to acknowledge and not to prove a point or seek some ego boosting prestige. ¬†Running tends to bring with it a sense of freedom and a sense that you are in fact being your true self. ¬†Clarity in thought, responding to your bodies needs, moving with the landscape as apposed to fighting it and experiencing the moment. ¬†In fact, the moment¬†itself seems to stop having the same meaning. ¬†I find it shifts in length,¬†at times being short and others stretching out as though it could be infinitely long. ¬†Despite this chaotic nature, one thing brings it all together. ¬†The sense of nothingness that engulfs me. ¬†Not a nothingness where I seize to exist, but more an indifference to the normal demands on a person, where you can just be. ¬†I’ve struggled to put this feeling in to words, and I still find it difficult to do so. ¬†All I can say is this…. ¬†it is the one mental place, were it is possible to truly acknowledge who you really are and measure your value and significance. ¬†Realising that we are but a tiny blip in time is somewhat scary and to many sounds a little depressing but its this feeling that brings a smile to my face every time, regardless of the pain or tiredness Im feeling.

It should be interesting to see¬†whether my thinking shifts, or whether I discover anything new about myself. ¬†Long endurance challenges are said to be the perfect arenas to see what we are made of and to test our limits. ¬†I have even heard ultra running legends say that they reveal a person for who they really are. ¬†Right now I have just two desires in terms of the challenge… ¬†To complete it successfully and not disappoint those that have given their support and to allow the selfishness of the whole adventure do some good for others who are less fortunate.

So… ¬†after that long and rambling piece of philosophical thinking, why do you run?

Self Perpetuating Motivational Device

In all the training, organising potential sponsorship, contacting people regarding potential talks post run and getting the equipment sorted, I completely forgot that there is a Land’s End to John O’Groats Association. ¬†This is what their site says about becoming a member:

“Anyone who has completed the journey From Land’s End to John o’ Groats in either direction, by whatever means of transport is eligible for membership of the Association.¬† You will have to have completed your trip as a single journey no matter how long that takes and you will be asked to provide evidence of a properly completed trip¬†which could be in the form of a diary or log book with signatures from anyone who has witnessed your trip.¬†¬†Many places, garages, post offices etc¬†have a date stamp and will be happy to stamp and sign your log.¬† Other¬†acceptable forms are accommodation receipts or similar which show where you were at any particular time and date.”¬†

The¬†idea of carrying a small book that is then stamped, signed or is used to collect some kind sign of my passing is really appealing. ¬†One of my favourite pieces of art is by the artist On kawara. ¬†He went on a journey and would send a postcard home that simply said “I am still alive”. ¬†Without getting deep and philosophical he was questioning his own existence.

So here’s what I plan on doing.

I’m going to purchase one of my favourite makes of notebooks, a Moleskine. ¬†On the 26th of July, in the Early hours of a Sunday morning, I’m going to carry this small book and along the journey I’m going to collect items that I can store in this little book, and for each item title them with the date and time. ¬†It is a little arty I guess, but as a personal piece of memorabilia, it’s going to priceless.

It’s the little things that cause out memories to jolt into action and let us relive moments in the past, so this is going to be my little memory jogger, and it’ll give a second goal to focus on whilst moving persistently forward.

I guess that’s what this post is about….

I’ve found a way of redirecting my focus at times when I will be low and struggling. ¬†The book really can’t go unfinished!

I’ve already planned one or two of the Scottish pages. ¬†They will be filled with the daed bodies of midges ūüėČ