why I run long

3 Dec

Monday night, I continued researching 50ks and 50 milers.  Sometimes I still don’t know why, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it is about a long run that has become so addicting for me.


This past weekend, I attempted my first double-digit long run since the Mendon 50k.  I’ve been taking it really easy running-wise.  Even though multiple doctors have said running will have no impact on our fertility treatments (and actually may help by keeping my stress levels in check), I figured I could cut back just a tad on miles (and give my body some rest, too, after 2 ultras in a year).


But I’ve been feeling a little stir crazy the past few days.  Nothing seems to be in my control right now, and I struggle with relinquishing control.  Running is something I can control.  And right now, I’m craving that.


So Saturday morning, I went with Eric and Todd to do some WTF loops.  It was maybe 20 degrees.  The course is pretty hilly.  My lungs were having none of it.  I had planned to do 2 loops for a total of 10 miles.  I struggled to make it to 5, and spent the rest of the day hacking and using my inhaler to no avail.  I was pissed at my body, thinking about how it can apparently do NOTHING I want it to do.


Sunday morning, we decided to give it another go.  It was 40ish when we started, and I felt good.  Shockingly good.  I took it SUPER easy, walked the major hills and made it through the first loop with no breathing issues (and hardly getting lost, which is maybe the bigger shock).  Sonia and I started the next loop together, we split off our separate ways around mile 6.  I cruised on, still feeling pretty great.  But by mile 8, I was tired.  I was hurting.  I got to Ski Hill and knew I had that and Hell on Roots (plus some other smaller mountains that aren’t worth naming) to go.  I considered going back to the car and calling it a day.  But then I realized–you’re just tired.  You don’t quit when you’re tired.  You walk the damn hill, run when you’re ready again, and just enjoy the nice day.


So there I am, hiking up Ski Hill, cursing my stupid brain for deciding to keep trucking.  I hit the top of the hill and “The Rock of Truth” is calling to me.  I was tired, so I sat down for a minute on top and just listened to my breathing and heart beat and thoughts.  I started to think about how people say this is crazy– these massive hills, running for hours on end, intentionally hurting…Why do we runners do this to ourselves?

The Rock of Truth

The Rock of Truth

And then a lyric from a Goo Goo Dolls song popped into my head:  “You bleed just to know you’re alive.”   Sometimes outside, visible marks and scars validate the internal, invisible ones.  Every little bruise on my body from a needle confirms that I’m not a baby–those shots are not pleasant, and I’ve got the physical marks to prove it.  Then I started thinking about how sometimes physical pain dulls emotional pain.  When I’m running and it starts to hurt or I start to get tired, that’s all I can think about–getting through that moment (because when you run long, you often have to deal with waves of bad feelings, and there’s nothing you can do but let them wash over you and recede again, just like real waves).  I love trail running because I can’t think much about “stuff” anyway–I have to focus on where I’m putting my feet, trail markers, and not quitting.  And that pain and exhaustion…it tells me I’m alive…and that I know that I can push through it to finish something I started…that I am in control of whether I gut it out or throw in the towel.


Running pain feels good in some way.  Because when you push through the pain, the feeling on the other side of it is indescribably amazing.  Turning my brain off when I run is invigorating.  Seeing that my body CAN do things is empowering.  So I’m researching 50ks and 50 milers.



2 Responses to “why I run long”

  1. Dan Lopata December 3, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Beautiful post. We don’t do it because it’s easy, we do it because it’s hard. That let’s us know we’re alive 🙂

  2. Anita Cornell December 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks Sheila, This is a very inspiring blog – like all of them!

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