I had one of those effortless workouts this morning as I looped Mission Bay in my coach's shirt, herding my sheep, soaking in the Autumn sunshine, and breathing in the moist salt air. Granted it was only 11 at a 9:00 pace so of course it's going to feel easy peasy, but it did get me thinking.
The last two months, since starting my latest job, haven't been the best training. I started out reasonably fit, put on weight, and wound up getting progressively less fit. That's a standard trend for me when I'm stressed trying to deal with a new job and trying to measure up to the players who have been around longer and inevitably know more than I do. I accept it.
At the end of the workout, one of my athletes asked why she didn't feel a huge burst of energy when she ate a Gu midway through and I tried to explain how fueling during running is aimed primarily at avoiding the bonk rather than seeking a moment of elated euphoria. Which sort of got me thinking more.
While I'm not a huge over-indulger in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, I certainly understand their appeal, along with tagging a mountain peak, winning a race, falling in love, etc. These euphoric moments often accompany a rush of adrenaline, a great sense of satisfaction, and a buzz which I can certainly understand someone else becoming addicted to. But they also have corresponding crashes which in my mind negate some of the brilliance. My friend Shelley once told me, in a moment of realization, "you want to skip the honeymoon and go straight to the hard part of a relationship" and I felt that was an adequate description of my take on most things.
So, yeah, I totally get the thrill seekers, as I am not immune to the seductiveness of excitement. I'm with you. But I'm not built like you so much. I am a little different.
I'm far more vulnerable to the spontaneous seduction of a long run punctuated by a lack of "bad pain". Managing the trough, the valley, it seems like a very big key to the ultrarunner mindset and it's how I get the most enjoyment. How can I minimize my "wasted" time? How can I avoid "slowing down"? What techniques can I employ to shrink moments of depression, frustration, or anger? Geronimo seems to have this wired, his zen-like attitude makes for a man devoid of massive swings of emotional state. There are a myriad of life lessons in this pursuit.
I truly adore the surprise morning runs which seems like it could be twice as long and I'd feel just as good at the end. I find those workouts better than sex, better than momentary highs which inevitably fade as the brain returns to sea level. Perhaps part of this is why I have such a soft 5K pr and that my 10K pr is from the AFC half? I'm not sure, but to me the most exciting part of life is the part that might still be a part of my present by the time I've reached tomorrow.
Peaks are cool. I like peaks. But I'm a bigger fan of working through the valleys.