You may have noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of running going on around here. What’s more, you might have noticed I haven’t incessantly brought this fact up three thousand times, like I typically do when not running. But now that I’ve brought it up, let us discuss this anomaly further.
A slew of perhaps not so random events occured in my running life, including some heavy distance races that I never fully recovered from before diving into the next one, some antibiotics that may have compromised some tendon strength, and an injury that hopped from one limb to the other as I overcompensated for that day’s pain, and stubbornly raced anyway.
You’ll note that I didn’t review the 2018 Hallucination 6/12/24 hour race I attended on February 3rd, because I quite literally walked my way to the minimum distance (15 miles) to earn my coin, collected it, limped to a folding chair, and called it quits. Not just in the race, but running in general.
Not forever of course. No, I am a runner in the very deepest part of my soul. I have become friends with pain. I have my reasons to hurt. I will forever crave the solitude of running through the woods, alone, for hours and miles on end, where the “we’re just getting started” feelings happen well beyond the point where the average person would have already called it quits.
But for the first time in a very long time, years perhaps, I no longer felt the compulsive desire to run. How cliche it is to make this reference, in fact I’m almost ashamed…but just like Forrest Gump, I declared that I was tired. I was ready to go home.
I desperately needed a break. I knew it after Frozen Hell Hole, but Hallucination was the final confirmation.
And so for the last month (really, the 6 weeks since Frozen Hell Hole), I haven’t been running. I haven’t even been thinking about running. And I’ve been enjoying it. Really (surprisingly, enthusiastically, and authentically) enjoying it.
I’ve been focusing on my time in the gym again, and I’ve found my “high” in creeping closer to weight PR’s I set a few years ago. My chest, shoulder, and back muscles are creeping out from underneath a layer of Tailwind and potato chips, and you can visibly see them again.
I’ve been teaching spin class again, a passion I absolutely forgot that I even possessed, until I was back in the saddle, choreographing jumps and climbs to some killer music.
After years of threatening, I’ve finally jumped head first into what I hope will be a lifelong practice of yoga. My “baby steps” have creeped up to 3-4 classes per week, and I’m slowly learning the fundamentals while also learning to tell my inner competitive voice to shut the hell up, no one “wins” yoga class.
All of this, consistently 6 days a week, without a step of running. And guess what? I FEEL INCREDIBLE. I actually feel more fit than I have in years. I can actually *SEE* my abdominal muscles. And I’m conveniently allowing my achilles (the overuse injury that was plaguing me) to heal.
But the past few days as I’ve been driving my kids to school, I’ve noticed the way the sun has been coming up, peeking it’s way through the swampy Carolina pine forests, equal parts eerie and inviting. My mind immediately gravitates to the Francis Marion National Forest, a place where I’ve spent far too much time on my feet in the last 365 days, and my first thought is a jovial “haha, I’m glad I’m not there right now running another one of Chad’s ridiculous races“.
And then without fail, my heart skips a beat.
The trees move gently with a breeze that whispers “we’re waiting for you…” I look away, bringing my attention back to my kids, the song on the radio, the clients I have later that morning. Anything to ignore the whispers of temptation, knowing deep down that this break, though temporary, is so incredibly necessary.
But you, ultra running, you are my mistress. You cause me so much trouble, you bring me so much pain, you consume my life in ways that are often wildly unhealthy, and yet…I can’t say no. I can never say no.
The whispers…they are getting louder.