I might’ve run a marathon on the trails today. I wasn’t really planning on it, and like most things that seem to be going on in my life lately, it just happened.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my running lately and why I run (or cycle or exercise, period). I’ve written about this before a bit before (a long time ago), and it’s struck me over the past week or so how much my motivation changes. For years, running for me was driven largely by a ‘health’ thing (and more specifically, an ‘I must run so I can eat’ thing), where while I did genuinely enjoy getting out there, miles equated to calories, and there was a lot of brain thought time that got dedicated to that. At some point that changed when I realized that not running didn’t make a difference for me and that if I just ate when I was hungry, it all eventually balanced out, and my mental health life got so much better. Running became something I did to relieve stress, not cause it.
I’ve ebbed and flowed with it over the past few years; in Charleston, I was so caught up with work that it was much more of a routine thing where I didn’t worry too much if it didn’t happen, but looked forward to when it did. Early in San Francisco, it was similar, particularly over the winter where low light and unfamiliar territory meant squeezing in a few minutes if and when I could. Since March, when life really, really changed, it’s gone back to being what it was for me 3rd year of uni in Scotland – a total escape from reality, the thought-spaghetti that is my brain and a way to see places few people are getting to see. This combination is addictive for me, and I recognize that. It becomes a game. It becomes about grabbing control when things are spinning out of my grip. It becomes an all-encompassing obsession of farther, faster, stronger because the high of being able to switch off while forcing my body to react is so freeing.
Anyway. So I ran a trail marathon today. And despite it being on a trail, I ran it 5 minutes faster than the marathon I actually trained for way back when. It was kind of silly. I didn’t bring water. I got lost several times. I drank from a spout that probably wasn’t for drinking. I stopped and danced to Mika (whatever happened to Mika?!) at mile 15 or so when I was totally crashing and burning and realizing I was at least 6 miles from the trailhead. And then I ended up at 22 miles, and it was like, well… what’s 4 more at this point. I didn’t really think. I only kind of feel like dying right now.
Part of me is like, holy shit, how did I do that? And then part of me is like, holy shit, get your life in order, why did you do that? And then part of me is like, holy shit, who even cares, it was fun, and I had fun.