100 hundred days ago I ran 100 miles in a day. Two weeks ago I couldnt run 10k without my calves seizing up forcing me to walk bow-legged and panting for breath, wanting to stop and take a nap. I was rested and felt strong until halfway into the run when it seemed like Id never run a mile in my life. I was shocked and embarrassed but not entirely surprised. Ive been dealing with inexplicable energy issues for several months. The last three years of training and racing ultras has finally caught up to me perhaps. It's hard to accept that everything I have learned about myself and what the human body is capable of is a lie which doesn't make sense. Im only just turning thirty and I refuse to go down the just-getting-older road. Too many 40 year old athletes are running competitive ultras to use that excuse. I think it comes down to basic running skills. Something I have taken for granted as I progressed into ultra distances. When I heard people say that a half marathon was all they could do, I felt proud that I didn't have such a limit. When others said that they got injured after just a mile, I started thinking maybe I was immune or something. I guess the superhuman complex got hold of me subtly and it seemed like yea running 100 miles is no big deal, right? But the truth is, pride aside, it doesn't just happen overnight. Not that long ago I was someone who didn't run all the time. Then I was someone who thought 5k was the distance to train for. Then I swore Id never run a second marathon. Then I started running 10 miles a day with back to back 50k's on the weekend but still thinking 100 mile runners were gods. Superhuman at least, not like the rest of us. Until I ran one and found out how much it hurts just to finish and decided it was the sub 24hr people who were really amazing and doing the impossible. Now Ive run just two sub 24hr 100s and it's hard to find something I don't think I can do. Which is a good mindset to have in the ultra world accept that somewhere on my journey I lost sight of what I had at the beginning of all this. A respect for running and doing something that is larger than yourself. I forgot that you can't just go from zero mileage recovery into 6 hour days in the mountains. I forgot that running 100 miles begins by running 1 mile everyday and then progressing. So I've started over and currently I'm doing 5k a day adding a kilometer once or twice a week. It seems painfully pedestrian at times and I've been tempted to go for some bigger more 'satisfying' adventures that would lead me back to zero but I remind myself that I'm building something. If I want to get back to the bigger distances I need to work on the little distances first. Adding 1 mile right now is a bigger jump than adding a mile if you are already doing 10. So I'm playing the percentage game and taking it slooooow. Starting from scratch puts the magic back into running. To be honest it's a relief. Running is hard again. I don't take for granted the miracle of coming back from a tough effort feeling like you accomplished something bigger than yourself.
I first learned defiance as a child when I allowed my thoughts and eventually my actions to rebel against the discipline of my parents. I hid and cheated and stole for the thrill of getting away with it. When I left the shelter of their authority I found the same defiance against the ideals of society at large which applied pressure towards the direction of my life. I dropped out of college refusing to read the books everyone was being told to read. I became foolishly defiant against commonly accepted truths regarding the science of sleep and nutrition. I attempted to stay up for many nights and sleep only one day a week. I tried to overcome my hunger and tame my weaknesses by refusing to eat anything cooked, refined, or animal based. Always looking for the boundary and pushing beyond it became something of an uncontrollable habit. Beyond these personal rebellions I adopted even greater defiance towards organizations that functioned to control my actions by telling me lies. I aimed for a life that didn't revolve around commuting 9 - 5 to a job that made me hate myself. All of this to take control of my life. Ultimately because of a lack of trust. Interestingly, I now find my sense of defiance against the chaos of my own natural state in the form of discipline, the ideal I first defied. The ability to defy my own 'weaknesses' which predestine my path towards sloth, disorganization, and what can broadly be described as unhealthy behavior have somehow become a way back to the light. Probably this is the ultimate and most difficult form of control.