Dear 39-year-old self,
You’re eighty years old now and in hindsight I can tell you one thing: trail running saved your life.
At the moment, as you near your fortieth birthday, you just think it’s something you stumbled upon and through; something that weaves symbiotically between your personal life and working life.
It all started when you had to write a profile. Remember? Hah. Running with Dean Karnazes to get an interview. He said it wouldn’t hurt you to run your first-ever marathon on zero training. He was so wrong. Asshole. Couldn’t walk for weeks. Shot knees. No fun.
At that stage you hadn’t run since high school. And it showed. You thought you’d never run again.
Nevertheless, the pain faded (as it does) and the experience sparked something. This very magazine to be specific.
Of course, you had to run that Oxfam 100 before the idea really firmed. You really should have trained for that, too, idiot. Dragged in by an old high school mate who assured you that you could finish with only a few 7km runs a week “and a bit of footy training. That’s all I do,” said the six-time Oxfam finisher. Prick. Remember the shin splints? The hallucinations so bad at 90km that as you ran past your childhood home in Warburton, you didn’t even recognize it?
Two painful experiences. And it led you to where you are. An addict. But you know there are worse things to be hooked on (remember the Dandenong years: mantelpiece of booze and drugs inhaled on dangerous ‘rubber band’ binges that led to a car crash). Yes, most certainly there are more dangerous addictions. You were lucky to escape one for the alternative.
And while your only Class-A indulgence now is a predilection for higher quality wine (shiraz if anyone’s buying), you’re still not very good at putting in the training yards. A word from the future, you’ll never be great at the training consistency thing. But don’t sweat it. Leave the run-fast stuff (and your guilt) to the A-Types. Don’t mock them for it, though: appreciate them for their prowess and work ethic. And then go run in mountains when you can, for the love, for the whim, not the win. (Because I can tell you categorically from where I sit in the future, you never win anything). But the fact that you get out there, irregularly, for the love, does save your life. I promise you.
In fact, every moment on trail adds to it in some way. And so every moment on trail has worth.
Remember the times where the pain was so great that it turned to some kind of bliss? Remember the times where you threw up – making the moment seem no better than a teenage (or Dandenong) binge drink session? Remember the times you couldn’t be bothered? And you felt like a failure for not having the same determination as everyone else on Facebook touting their 5am, fifty kilometre taper run? Don’t stress. Rather, remember the times when you did get out there.
Here: remember the nothing-special run that was February 11th 2014. A night run. No reason (apart from you were scared about having not trained for the Shotover Moonlight Marathon in New Zealand ten days ahead, knowing that once again…you were undercooked beyond rare). You were ambivalent about getting out. But you were depressed. Couldn’t pinpoint why. You felt lonely; empty; and guilty for feeling so. Moaner. You have a habit of that, by the way. Stop it. This, despite the amazing kids, amazing wife, amazing life. Fact was, you were just down. There was only ebb, no flow. But a bright moon and a sweet, sultry breeze dragged you out. Up over cliffs then onto Urquhart’s Beach. Then single trail to Aireys Inlet. Spiderwebs everywhere. Headlamp on, tunneling through heath, feeling guilty for ruining the spiders’ architecture, ocassionally stopping to admire them at work, spinning, catching, creating. Remember you stubbed your toe. Again. Frustration. You felt good, then sick. Fire road didn’t help. Then singletrack back into town. All alone. No one about. A roo. A moth. The spiders. Always the spiders with their eyes reflecting back your headlamp beam, creating a carpet of stars on the ground.
You didn’t check the time, the distance, nor your pace. You just ran in the bush.
Pegging home at close to midnight, you showered, kissed your daughters fast asleep, and lay down. And finally for the first time that day you smiled.
You do that many times in your life. Run that gamut. Out run the black dog.
And while the running isn’t free of ramification (your wife will occasionally resent the time, your kids will ask why you don’t play with them instead of run, you will have injuries, and your fetish for shoes will cost you dearly), the trails will give more than they take away.
Mainly they give you freedom. From the ebbs. From addictions that cause more harm to you than running ever could. And the freedom to have energy to actually play with your kids more. To be in better moods and argue less with your wife. To have the energy to put more into family life. Into work. Into Trail Run Mag. Into smiling.
I tell you this as an old man. You in forty more years. A you that needs you to keep running. So I (that is, you) can smile more now. Now being then. And now being the future. Now being always.
Your in-the-moment editor, Chris Ord
This is the Australian Editor’s editorial from the newly released edition of Trail Run Mag (Ed#12), available as a FREE DOWNLOAD from www.trailrunmag.com/magazine. You can also purchase it for your iPad or Kindle Fire. Go to the same link for the relevant shop details.
Himalayan Hustle > Martin Cox goes gonzo in Indian ultra //
Cause to run > Ryan Sandes & Sam Gash talk running for a reason
Storm on Makorako > even the pros need rescuing sometimes //
Fastpacking > light and long on trail //
Dreaming of Dirt > Olympic hurdler Victoria Mitchell //
Shot over Moonlight > mountain marathon gone wrong //
JAPAN Special > Singletrack Samurai Kabukari + trail heroes
Nutritional Supplement > Running on ‘shrooms + periodisation + reviews //
PLUS trail guides, gear and shoe reviews, editors’ columns, event previews. And a little bit of dirt.
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