Around this time last summer I was reading the book “Born to Run” about the Tarahumara Indian tribe in northwestern Mexico that are notoriously known for their long distance running abilities. These men and women could run 100’s of miles at a time, not necessarily for fun, it’s just how their culture exists.
Prior to reading the book I was not a dedicated runner. I had tried to do a half marathon and ended up walking most of the way because of my lack of training. For whatever reason I decided I wanted to be a runner. This book was catapulting me toward that goal. It discussed the idea that biologically we are literally “born to run”. It told stories of people that have run extremely long distances. I was fascinated and excited.
When I get excited about things, I can’t stop talking about it. Word vomit. So, naturally, I told people. One person specifically didn’t share in my excitement. While explaining about people that could run hundreds of miles, he continued to question how people could actually do this. How did they eat, when did they sleep, on and on. While the book is based on historical facts, not only about the Tarahumara, but also Americans that have run incredible distances. I believed that these things actually happened, that people can find deep within themselves the ability to do extraordinary things. I was tired of arguing and trying to convince this guy, the conversation ended when he stated: “That’s like believing in Bigfoot.”
My excitement ended there. I struggled through the rest of the book, taking about 4 or 5 months to finish because I had been convinced that maybe people can’t really do these things or they are an exception.
Regardless, I became a runner. In the next six months I would make running a regular part of my life. During that time my motivation was mostly to get healthier and lose some weight. I signed up for another half marathon, and ran the entire way! After completing that, I was more excited about running and prepared the next six months to run another half marathon. I fell more and more in love with running and wanted to be faster and faster. At the beginning of May I ran my third half marathon, running faster than ever before and ending up beating my past two times and the goal I had set for that race.
After the race I was excited, but it slowly started to fade. I had worked hard, gotten results I wanted, now what do I do? I didn’t run as much the next few weeks, trying to figure out what running really has to do with my life.
A couple weeks ago, a guy named Scott Jurek came out with a new book. He is an ultra-runner. Among his accomplishments he’s won numerous 100 mile races, raced across Death Valley and ran 165 miles in 24 hours and competed in a race with the Tarahumara. How did he eat? He just did. When did he sleep? He didn’t, he just ran. He’s not Bigfoot, is he?
After reading Scott’s book I regained my excitement. Then I read another book, about Marshall Ulrich who ran across the United States, 3,000 miles in 52 days at 57 years old. Maybe he’s Bigfoot?
I was convinced by someone that in our lives we need to be rational. To have dreams and goals and be excited about things that are reasonable and make us comfortable.
I don’t want to be realistic or comfortable. I want to do things that I never thought I could do. I want to do things I think are impossible and then find that somewhere deep inside me there is the ability for me to exceed my own limitations.
Having run some half marathons that means that the farthest I’ve run has been 13 miles. Last week I decided I wanted to run farther than I have before. Because I was excited and just wanted to see what my abilities are. I set out to run 15. I ended up running 20.
Running that 20 miles, pushing past the limit that I had for myself, connecting my thoughts and beliefs with my physical abilities was happiness to me. I have found something I have been looking for my whole life. Something I am excited about, something that pushes me to be far better than I ever thought I could be because I didn’t know that I had the ability in me. I am the one that sets the parameters for what I can or cannot do. Running is just a metaphor for life. It’s not the only things there is, but my happiness from it spills over into the rest of my life. Proving that I can do whatever I want.
In Scott’s book he has this phrase he learned as a child: “Sometimes you just do things.” That one sentence explained a lot for me. We do things when we have to. We do things we love. We do things we might not believe could ever be done. Why? How? When? Who knows and who cares. I am done with questions, I just want to do things.
If I could run 20, could I run 30? Could I run 50? Could I be an ultra-runner? I want to find out. There are other goals and aspirations I have in my life, I don’t know exactly what they are. I believe that my desire to be a long distance runner will make me realize them. So, for now, I’m going to run and see where it takes me. See how far I can go. See if I can find Bigfoot.
(Oh yeah, yesterday I ran 22!!)