Thursday, 7 November 2013

Here's why:

I've had this feeling in my gut for a while now that something is not right. It got stronger over the weekend, as I chatted to one of Australia's great ultra runners about what we do: running, training and racing. You see, training and racing are a part of running, but they're not all there is to running. There's also the rest of it, which is just running.

And that's the part I love.

I'm sure some runners get up and hit the trails and think, I'm training. I know that my run is having a physical effect on my body, but that's not always why I'm doing it. Sometimes I'm doing it because I need to break free. Sometimes I need to think. Sometimes I need to breathe, or look up at the sky. And other times I run just because there's nothing I'd rather be doing.

It seems logical to say that when I'm racing, I'm running. Of course I am—it's a running race! But the word run has a very different meaning for me than the words race and train. The other two are about an end result for me, while running is a process. Running is the beautiful journey that is both grounding and lifting. In training and in racing, my level of enjoyment ultimately comes down to whether I'm running in this holistic sense, or just racing or just training.

Running encompasses running, by definition, but it also encompasses walking and breathing and lying back on a rock to look at the sky and feeling the sun on my skin (or the rain, or the wind, or the sleet) and the power and weakness in my body and the earth beneath my feet. And how all these things combine together for an experience that is unique and greater than the sum of its parts.

It is so much more than just racing or just training.

With this in mind, I'm not heading south to do the Great North Walk 100 Mile Race this weekend. I'm also not doing the 100 km race. I'm not going at all. I can provide many reasons, all of which are sound, and all of which support my decision: focus on upcoming races, recovery time, current physical state, current emotional state, etc.—but none of these are the true reason.

The true reason is that it just feels wrong.

That's the feeling in my gut. I can't find where it comes from, but it has worried me. I explored all aspects of my life to figure out what was wrong, and when I started to think about this race, that feeling in my gut got worse. And when I decided not to go, the feeling went away altogether.

I just told a close friend my decision, and she said to me,
'If you are not there mentally when you start, then what's the point?'
She's nailed it.

So this weekend you'll find me on the trails, not of the Great North Walk but of South East Queensland and maybe Northern New South Wales (the Border Ranges, etc.), just being me and doing what I love: running.