I reacquainted myself with an old friend the other day on a short 3.5 mile run. The friend was a podcast I used to listen to on my long runs called Phedipidations by a wonderful runner named Steve. It's a wonderfully goofy little podcast made just for long runs. He'll pick a running related topic and discuss it while on his weekly long run. It's like having a good friend beside you who talks to you while you run. The best part is you don't have to contribute anything to the conversation which can sometimes be a problem when you're trying to breathe. I like to breathe. It helps me run. Maybe it's just me.
Anyhoo, I was listening to this podcast and his topic was ultra-marathoning. This is not something I'm overly interested in but I listened more for the company than the topic. During his discussion he mentioned something, however, that got me thinking (amazing I know!). He mentioned something about some people running and using their bodies and some people running and abusing their bodies. His point had something to do with either managing your energy so you cross the finish line upright and strong or just pushing yourself to the edge where you crawl across the finish line and die.
I found this interesting because he was obviously touting how good it is to be in the first category. Being good enough to manage yourself, your energy, and your body to get the maximum performance from it. But my thoughts were on the second category. The one that involves pushing your body and spirit to the edge and going past your energy reserves and your body's limits.
I guess that's how I've always seen running. As a quest to find that edge. A way to see how far/hard/long your body can last. And really it's much more than your body. It's your mind and spirit that you are pushing. I'm a die-hard believer that the body can accept much more than our minds and spirit will let it and I like to see hard far I can push that. I suppose this has a little to do with a deep-rooted dislike of myself. Not in a harmful, crazy-insane way, but in a constantly self aware and self evaluation way. I'm happy for my successes and I do believe I'm a good person but I also know that once you stop analyzing yourself and get comfortable with yourself it's very easy to slip into a stagnation of ego that's hard to break out of. Being aware of, but not constantly focused on, your own faults and limitations is a good start to improving them. So I see running a physical way to test these limits and find out where I stand at any given time.
Maybe one day I'll switch over to that other sort of view on running. I know I've felt it a few times. On the 2 marathons I've run extremely well in, I had a great sense that I was running within myself and had managed my body well. My finishing times reflected that and I was running strong when I crossed the finish line. Those were good experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything but they were noticeably different than my usual running experience. I guess you'd say I slipped into those while seeking the other.
Thanks for listening