Training for 100kms takes up a lot of time. But, in a strange way, it also gives you a luxurious amount of time in return. A four, five or six-plus hour run in the woods adds up to more 'free' time than I would normally see in a week, let alone a single day. I like to 'do stuff', so my days are normally crammed from dawn to dusk with work, work, fitness, home projects, work, projects, fitness, work or sleep. I am getting better at relaxing and have learned to appreciate the rewards that come from 'doing nothing' and 'free time'. (Who knew relaxing and watching a movie could be so rejuvenating?)
Heading out for a run that takes half of your day is like switching a light off for me. My constant sense of urgency evaporates with the first few steps on dirt. The further I get from the trail head, the less of a pull my 'list' has over me. Thoughts of 'to do' may enter my mind, but they are quickly released into the woods. Climbing to the top of a mountain, 15kms from my car, there is absolutely nothing I can do about the fires burning back in the Valley. They are left to smolder and become specks beyond the back of my mind. All I can do in that moment is run. I have discovered that the forest still stands when I return to my real life. Those fires never actually burn out of control when I am off duty. Time and distance teach me that fires are only fueled in my mind. Perspective shifts are a powerful thing, indeed. It is one of running's greatest gifts.
The mind wanders with the trail and thoughts are released to fly free in the wild. Random fragments of ideas come and go with the changing terrain. Snapshots of my week are caught and thrown about by the mountain wind. Beautiful, simple patterns appear all around me as the minutes turn to hours on the trail. Nature's repetition helps to create lines and connect dots in my mind's eye. Stands of strong and true firs are the backdrop. Golden beams of 'komorebi' sunlight filter through the leaves. An actual ribbon of endless single track is laid out before me. Puzzles of rock are fit together perfectly under flowing water. Nature never ceases to amaze me. It is one of running's greatest gifts.
Hours of time spent with good, true friends. You may think those days are in the past. Sleep overs and road trips and sharing and laughing til you cry. Running brings those beautiful experiences back into your life. My trail peeps. The ones who drag me up the climbs. The ones who chase me down the other side. The ones who share their fears and schemes and dreams. The ones who listen to mine. We share the supernatural, magical, unforgettable moments side by side. It is a gift to spend luxurious hours of silence and belly laughs and deep thoughts and ridiculousness together. These are more than runs. These are deeply cultivated connections...these are real moments with real people in a fragmented, often superficial and always very busy world. Running with friends is as great a gift as any.
I could write for hours on the endless and beautiful gifts of spending time on the trail...but I am out of time;)
PS I have been sharing my trail thoughts and images over on my Instagram account these days. Please head on over and follow me there if you wish:)