Anybody can be a runner… We were meant to move. We were meant to run. It’s the easiest sport.
On Sunday I enjoyed the opportunity to run a few kilometers with a “Legend” of long distance trail running: Scott Jurek. In the evening, I spent a moment visiting his official website, interested by great reports and beautiful pics. But also, hoping to “learn” something and enrich my approach to running.
Of course this guy is a champion and I’m not (and notwithstanding all the respect I owe you, I guess you are not either if you read this humble blog…). Of course this champion is an ultra-distance runner and I’m not (but, related to my usual training mileage, a marathon is already an ultra-distance race for me!).
However, I guess I got something. Something obvious but something we (I guess that I’m not the only one…) might sometimes lose sight of during our marathon quest: PLEASURE.
Scott Jurek runs for his living. It’s his job, his “office”. It’s not a hobby as it is for most of us. Of course, it brings him many advantages that we’ll never enjoy in terms of time availability and material support. But I guess it also comes with a lot of “external” pressure for results, kind of pressure that can easily alter freedom and pleasure to run. However it doesn’t seem so for Scott Jurek. While smiling and talking to us on Sunday, or reporting about his races on his website, he shines with a true joy of running.
As “recreational” runners, we are blessed because we don’t have to endure “external” pressure. The only pressure we must carry is the one we choose to put on ourselves: our motivation.
So, here is my point: I believe the best approach to running a marathon lies in having a motivation that respects our pleasure to run now.
I’ll write more about this idea soon
Yep! Surprise run with a Legend this morning!
This morning was my weekly long run and I had planned not to start too early because of the cold. But yesterday evening, one of my friends dropped me an email telling me that he was hesitating to go running with Scott Jurek or to start with me later.
“- He is in town these days and a little run with him is organized tomorrow at 9.00am, starting behind the casino… do you know this guy?
- What? Scott Jurek is here and you’re hesitating between Him and me? Let’s go! We won’t run the whole session with Him but we’ll do the first miles on the tarmac along the lake together before they head to the snowy paths of the mountain”.
And that’s exactly what we did.
I’m not a trail runner but I had really enjoyed reading “Born to Run“. So meeting one of the heroes of this book was great. Exchanging a few words with Scott and seeing his smily and humble attitude was really motivating!
OK, now I go swimming. For those of you interested, Scott Jurek is cross-country skiing this afternoon…
There are very different kinds of runners (you already know that!). I mean we are very different. And I don’t speak about our speed or mileage, but more about our thoughts while running.
The other day, I’ve come across a nice post about running on a treadmill. The author is really performant in freeing her imagination to escape from boredom. Something I almost never do.
But then, how comes that I don’t get bored when running while I’m often so impatient in everyday life? Where is my mind then?
Is it still at work? Busy trying to solve issues from the office?… I guess not. Or if it does, I’m not even conscious about it.
Is it enjoying every bit of the environment I’m running in? The colors of the lake? The people I come across?… I never run on a treadmill and I’m lucky to live in a great place (when it’s not totally frozen!) so it could be. But no, it isn’t. Sometimes, at the end of a run, I don’t even remember where I’ve been or whom I’ve met.
Is it already visualizing the next marathon to come? Trying to repeat my runner partition and to internalize sensations?…
Could be but then it would mean that I’m always on track for a future race. And that’s not true.
So, why on earth am I not bored when I run? Where is my mind then?
With the risk of looking like an “ego maniac” guy, here is the answer: my mind is focused on… me, or more exactly on my running technique. Constantly checking if I keep my strides short and frequent, my knees always bent, my upper body relaxed… And when my mind gets tired and starts to wander around, my technique starts to fall apart. Believe me: it’s exhausting!
What about you? Where is your mind when you run?
You’re right: it’s beautiful…
… but give us a few degrees more please. It’s freezing cold out here!
oh! oh! we have a problem…
Barcelona, I already miss you…
The other day, I was wondering about my competitive state of mind and I ended up thinking that I could only lose this race against my past. At least, this was my temporary conclusion.
But if running races are not about speed, then what are they about? Aren’t they about pushing ourselves to and beyond our limits? Aren’t they about capitilazing on the competition (and competitors) energy to experience sensations we would never have reached alone during our training?
For sure they are. Races and finish times are powerful magnets. Even now, when I’m not so young and confident, I’m still terribly attracted by these personal challenges of (relative) speed.
But another inner voice* also tells me to move to something else. There must be a less risky approach of races. Less risky but still satisfying for my performance orientated state of mind.
* Well… I wish I was inspired by an inner voice but I’m afraid I was more by my painful experience…
I have to change a lot of things before I become a good marathon runner.
I’m not a competitor. I mean I don’t like to “race” for classifications, for age-group rankings. That’s why I prefer starting running events or triathlons compared to cycling races, where all that matters is victory or a topSTHG ranking. However, at my modest level, I’m still performance orientated and my motivation is almost always associated with an objective of finish time.
Maybe this is my problem… Because this is still competition. But this time, it’s a race against one single competitor.
In the beginning, it was easy to beat him. Then it seems that he improved because he was defeating me at times. And now I’m the one who struggles and it gets more and more difficult to win. Ultimately I will always lose.
This competitor is me, more precisely my past. My former references, my previous training laps, my old finish times, my PBs… my young days.
Should I try to beat him one more time or should I move to other motivations?
Barcelona: I love her so much… in winter time. When it’s not so hot and crowded. When you can enjoy mild temperatures to run in the sun along the beach while you know it’s freezing cold at home.
Well… I still managed to freeze myself, watching el Barca from one of the top rows of Camp Nou. Starting a game at 10.00pm might be perfect after a warm sunny day but, in the middle of winter… Anyway I enjoyed it.
I don’t know why but BCN was pancake flat in my memories. Now I’m sure it’s not and the marathon course is not so easy. Perfect for a late winter marathon in LSD mode. Not so ideal if you want to break your PB. I hope my running mate won’t kill me when I tell him…