I haven't spent much of the last three years focused on running or racing. Work obligations and travel have been the primary excuse, but laziness, apathy, and advancing old age have all played a part. As I settle firmly into my mid-thirties, I find my desire to race, and the competitive spirit that always fed that desire, waning as the years go by. It becomes harder and harder to get into that head space. I have finally come to accept that.
Lately, I am running more. I'm back to doing it for the pure fun of it. It feels like the closest I've felt to the 15-year-old me who first started running 20 years ago. That kid got his ass kicked by it and made the decision that underneath it all, it made him feel alive. Two decades later, after wandering, searching, being lost, I feel like I have finally come back to the beginning. Running just makes sense. It's the only thing that ever has.
I do still have some goals. I do still want to challenge myself. But I don't want to lose myself or the purpose behind this in those challenges. It is important to push the limits, try new things, be uncomfortable. That is how we learn. The point is to not get so caught up in the challenges that it festers as self-pity and self-doubt.
Slowly, piece-by-piece, I am attempting to rebuild myself, mentally and physically. No longer will I compare what I am doing now, what I am capable of now, to my younger and faster self. He had his time. I value the present, being in the moment, more than I ever have. I feel most in the moment when I am on the trail, clipping off an honest pace, and appreciating the act. The rocks, the soil, the flora, the hills, the clouds, the sun, the one-foot-in-front-of-the- other of it is the essence. I hope to do this the rest of my life.
Until the wheels fall off.