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From Sky to Sky

I haven’t written in awhile. It’s actually 20 months to be exact. Life has been busy. In amongst the clinic, family, parenting, adulting and running I’ve battled to find the time to sit and order the thoughts in my head. It hasn’t meant I haven’t had anything to say but as we’ve freed ourselves from the covid slumber of the last 2 years, life has (it seems) returned to its normal frantic pace. As I said before, life has been busy.

In between now and my last bit of writing I’ve run 5 ultra marathons (all within 12 months). All of them over 100kms in mountains, trails and the desert. The training required has been all consuming but to be honest I’ve used the many hours of solitude in training as leverage for mental growth and physical  transformation. I’m not the same person I was 12 months ago (physically and mentally) and that transformation has spilled over into other aspects of my life and clinic.

I could probably fill a book of stories and adventures from this year but in an attempt to get back into writing more regularly, only in 2023 though 😀, I thought I might share a few insights and lessons that running in  2022 has taught me.

There is a form of salvation in struggle and physical suffering. It’s cathartic in a sense and you will only understand it if you take yourself to your physical and mental extremes. Growth after all doesn’t happen in homeostasis but when we are in an unbalanced state exploring our boundaries. Neuroscience now proves that our “feel good” neurochemistry is wired for release only after physical or mental struggle. Trust me, ultrarunning will give you both. 😀

The mountain, trails or desert don’t  care about you, your feelings or mental state. To finish an ultra you have to overcome an enormous amount of physical discomfort but more importantly you have ignore the stories and lies your mind likes to  tell you. This is simply an attempt to protect you and can’t be taken personally. Life is pretty much the same. We tend to give to much importance to how we feel about things. I don’t feel like running at 02:30am in the morning in the middle of winter. I don’t feel like running in the rain and heat. I don’t feel like running back to back long runs on the weekend. (Although these things have become slightly addictive in a way) 😀. I choose to do these things knowing the habits of action will give me ability to endure hard things.  Feelings don’t get things done, action does. Feelings are dependant on action not the other way around. If you believe your thoughts and feelings, you will suffer.

Everything in life is subjective. Everything is perception. There is no ultimate truth except one thing and that is the objective relationship to self. The only thing we can know and experience as real is the God within us rising. I wish I could expand on this more and perhaps in time I will but this was my most dominant thought in my darkest place at this years Skyrun.

You are valid and deserve to be loved just as you are. The fact that you exist in this life and the odds that a sperm and an egg have to overcome in meeting, is a miracle. You do however have a responsibility to build on your incredible luck. If life was a foot race we would all have to run. We aren’t all the same and so a few of us with amazing genetics and opportunity would run with relative ease. Life would be easy. For most of us the race would feel like we have a fridge strapped to our back. Life would be a struggle (a gift). Irrespective, we have to run. And so we need to run (live) to the best of our ability and opportunities

Nature strives to be the best version of itself. A tree doesn’t grow to half its size. An animal doesn’t live a mediocre existence. Nature expresses itself fully, to its maximum potential. We should to. It is our duty, the price we pay for the gift of this brief existence.

Running to me doesn’t come naturally. I’m an ex prop rugby player, more  rhino than mountain goat. I jokingly tell people I hate running but I run for its gifts. Just like meditation, running has allowed me to strip away the layers of bullshit in my life. It’s allowed me to get to the core of my being. So wether I’m running in 47 degrees in the Tankwa or -6 degrees in the Wittebrge, I have the opportunity to rewrite my story. If this rewriting inspires just one person to make a change in their life I know my ancestors would be satisfied.

So as our first “full year” in almost 3 comes to an end, just remember our struggles give us our strength. Hard things are not negative things and most importantly the strength of our species can be found in not having to suffer or endure alone. Have a fantastic holiday season and may you be abundantly blessed in 2023

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