Yesterday I got out on the trails with some friends. It was muddy as all get out, a bit icy in patches, and glorious. It truly set the tone for my day, as I find that trail running does for me, more so than the road. I think one of the reasons why is that it is part and parcel to what I sense is a new phase of running for me, a running 2.0. I was probably already heading in that direction, but coming off injury perhaps has helped clarify where I am as a runner these days.
So, too, did a sermon my former triathlete pastor gave last week. He talked about finishing a race one time where he could hear a competitor coming up behind him. Like any self-respecting triathlete finishing a race would, he started to pick up his pace, to focus on making sure that competitor didn’t get past him. He managed to keep the other guy at bay, but afterward, recognized that his driver that day had been fear. Fear of losing a place in the results; fear of a slower time; fear of not looking as good as he might. He said that instead, he should have been racing from a place of peace.
This resonated with me. I don’t want to be running from a place of fear. It’s not that being competitive is a bad thing–it’s not at all. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have a competitor inside me anymore. It’s just that I want my running to be healthy, peaceful, and joyful.
I think this is fairly common among some of us middle-aged veterans. Another friend of mine, who is a beast of a runner and triathlete, recently took up ultras. She told me that the more relaxed pace of trail running and racing is a breath of fresh air for her. Beating herself up on the road for the sake of improved times has gotten a bit old after so many years. Long-time runner Harold of A Runnah’s Story recently sang a similar tune.
It’s not that any of us are headed toward a rocking chair, it’s just that as we get a bit older, we recognize that maybe a mellower place with our running is the right answer. I think I am finally at a place where, if I never set another PR, I’d be ok. I’d be at peace. Ten, five, even one year ago I wouldn’t have said that, but for everything in life there is a season, and maybe my competitive season is mostly behind me.
Call me crazy? Do you think you’ll ever reach this stage?