Now that I’m reaching the tail end of recovery from last weekends race, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what really goes on during one of these events.
It’s interesting to watch how the mind works as the hours tick by and the pain level increases.
One of the most important things this level of mileage teaches you is the split in mentality that takes place as the mind tries to protect itself. We all have two parts to our mind: One side that thinks we can, and the other that thinks we can’t.
Throughout our daily lives these two halves really present as one as they have no reason to really be at odds.
Once you place them under the pressures of long hours, pain, and disorientation, they begin to split from each other to the point that they are distinctly, and drastically different parts.
This always seems to happen to me somewhere between 35-50 miles (depending on how rough the terrain is) and the difference between them is extreme.
The separation between continuing on at 3AM and trudging through cold mud and pain that’s wracking your body is a constant struggle against the “you can’t” side. It’s loud, it wants you to stop, and it will try to justify failure in any way it can.
The key is centering yourself and embracing the suck! The more painful it gets, the more grounded and centered you have to become.
The louder it gets, and it gets VERY loud, the deeper you go into a state of mindfulness and acceptance.
Learning to embrace the struggle and overcome self-inflicted adversity becomes your path to knowing yourself at a deeper level.
At the end of the day you have to respect the mileage and the experience. Nature doesn’t care who you are, what training you’ve done, or who you are in life. The climb will hit you the same way whether you’re making $15,000/yr. Or $1,000,000/yr. The “you can’t side” will try every single trick to stop you, including shutting your body down… Don’t let it. If all you can do is crawl, then you crawl until you reach the finish line.
Nature is an equalizer that teaches you something new every time you dare greatly and can break you if you don’t respect her.
I’m humbled every time I head out to challenge her, and I feel like a child learning something brand new every time I hit the trail.
It’s a soul cleansing experience that cannot be gained by any other method than putting one foot in front of the other and clawing your way out of a world of hurt just to see if you can.
I guarantee you won’t finish a race, no matter the distance, and still be the same person. If you try to finish a long distance event as the same person you’ll quit before you ever reach the finish line.
Come join me!
Now, to finish up recovery because I’m crazy excited to head out for the 100 miler coming up at the beginning of the year, and for the Last Man Standing I’m eyeing right after!