Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Will to Run

As I stated in the last post I love running. You know why? Because I have not found a better, more accessible activity that allows you to push your own limits so easily. Most of the time when people say things like sports or athletics is 90% mental, people never take them seriously. I think in part it is because when most people think 'mental' they conjure up cerebral school style smarts. That can help but it's really about mental toughness, about having a will that can overcome your body screaming at you to stop or slow down. The difference between a runner who wins and one who looses is very often just a sheer test of will. How deep can you dig?

I was lucky for many reasons when it came to running. I was naturally gifted with some speed, and I had some very good coaches through school. My natural talent helped, but I wasn't the fastest when it came to sprints, although I could compete, I lacked the explosiveness to win anything larger than a three way school meet. It wasn't until I hit the the quarter mile mark that I really started to shine. At that distance you still had to run fast, but it was about who could sprint the longest, who wasn't afraid of just putting everything out there. Those longer races also took a certain amount of training to do. There were several kids I ran with that if they had trained as diligently and as hard as I did, could have most likely beat me. I enjoyed the discipline that running demanded of yourself, and that part of it is what has kept me in it all these years.

When you go out for a run, and your body starts aching, you get a cramp, your quads get tired, and your body tries to coerce you into stopping. You even come up with mental excuses to justify it. Running is 90% mental, because most of the time it's about fighting that weaker part of you that wants to give up, the one that wants to slow down. Running is physical training, but real running is training to tell that voice to 'go to hell'. Running is about training your will. Your body is capable of much more than most of us believe ourselves capable, mostly because we rarely venture beyond what is comfortable. You can go a long way outside of comfortable, it is just a matter of having the will power to push yourself to it.

In many ways I feel the same way about hiking, though it's a different kind of event. Running takes place over anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or so. Trekking, like what I have planned, is something that is done over a few weeks. Trekking is the long drawn out run, with some really spectacular scenery thrown in for kicks. Trekking in the Himalaya is great, because the trails are just like the ones back home, where the trail often goes from point A to point B in a fairly straight line, regardless of what kind of elevation change is in between. The difference between the Himalaya and home is that those elevation gains and drops are huge, our highest mountains would simply be un-named hills here. This can make for some grueling ascents and some stretches where you just want it to be over, but in finding those things that make us want to cry 'uncle' we can face up to it, buckle down, persevere, and be the stronger for it. People's bodies do occasionally give out on them, but it is rare, it is a persons will that gives out first and far more often. You are the only thing standing in your way, and learning to push those limits, to take the reigns of your experience and know that you only fail if you give up is liberating.

So like I said, I love running.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails