Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Problem With Running Really Long

The problem with running really long is...not running long. The common knowledge of "post-race depression" is accepted but not talked about beyond mentions. The issue with ultrarunning, or any over the top activity, is that during the event we feel such strong feelings. Our blood pumps unlike in regular life. We're in ourselves and the community of the race; we don't have to deal with (insert real life issue) while we're running. So some of us just keep running. It's at least partially why the culture of over-racing exists in ultrarunning.

Early in my running career I quickly realized that real life just doesn't compare to ultrarunning. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday after a spring 50k aren't depressing, they're simply less rad than Saturday's race. How do you focus on identifying trees when you just spent all of your energy and smiles barreling down a mountain two days ago? I can't.

Even if a race isn't magical, if you don't achieve flow (read: Bighorn 100), you still experience feelings that aren't typical or normal. I don't want to cry on a daily basis. I don't have my best friends whispering, "you're ok Rudy" to me every time I wince. I don't need to pull out parts of me that I didn't know existed on a daily basis. I'm glad I don't do those things frequently, because they tear apart your endocrine system. I can't live my life as a skeleton, but I can't live my life without those feelings.

Recovering from a hundo is like recovering from hard drugs (from what I've seen from the movies at least). Somehow you're happy, but immediately upon finishing you start shaking, your head is screaming at you, and your body is literally throbbing. It is horrible. I felt it after Bighorn and saw Glove shivering on a cot and clenching his teeth at 5am after WS100. You fight it and wake up the next morning feeling better, but you can't do normal things. You feel stupid. Routine questions and decisions take time to process, and nothing really matters besides eating. A week later you feel like you can run and you can, but your hormones are still messed up. Daily life is a low-lying steady state of underwhelming existence. It's not bad, but it's not great either.

Of course I'm dramatizing a bit, but am I totally off? Maybe I'm just having a rougher recovery because it was my first hundo. Maybe I'm just freaking out because I start a job that I somehow feel unprepared for despite carrying a 3.87 and two degrees into it. I've gotten myself into this fantastic, crazy, addicting, loving world of ultrarunning, but I have to cope with it. Feelings of isolation during the months preceding a race?You bet, just talk to my man Henry Wakley about sacrifice. I have to cope with the not-awesomeness of not running long because I'm trying to be smart and take a long-term approach to this lifestyle. I think we as ultrarunners all have to cope and NOT sign up for another race immediately. What should we do instead? Besides eat, sleep, and be merry, of which we get our fill rather quickly, I'm not sure.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading the story about your 100 miler. You're amazing! Thanks for the card you sent me! I look forward to reading more about you.

    - Eric