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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Between the Ferns

Thinking Out Loud
(Al Quinto and I at Sea to Summit last year)

The year 2016 is a month in, and I'm still not strapping on a pair of runners and getting out the door.

Hence, it will be starting from scratch for me this year, and I'm excited and pent up about it. There's a nervousness when the time comes to start consistently running again, and that anticipation is an interesting challenge to deal with. I was listening to a meditation coach named Tara Brach and she was telling a Buddhist story. It went something like this:

Buddha was sitting under a tree. At the fringes of the forest, a demon named Mara, the Lord of Death, was dancing and enticing the Buddha. One of the Buddha's followers was running and screaming in fear, warning others of the demon at the edge of the woods. Buddha said, "Do not fear. Instead, say, 'I see you Mara. Come, and enjoy some tea.'"



The moral of the story is that in order to conquer a negative aspect in one's life, it must first be identified and named. Only then can it be controlled and go from having a negative impact emotionally and spiritually and made to have no power over one's mindful and present state.

So, what is the demon that haunts my next step? How is it affecting me and the ultimate goal to find adventure once again on the mountain?

The injury is not the impedance, it is only a temporary threshold that is disallowing progressing to the running state. One of the demon's limbs is the concern of re-injury. It's the fear of having to go through this again. When is the time right to start training? What if it's too soon? What if it's too late? Is there something I'm doing in day to day, or at work that is adding to the time required to heal? Is that level of activity with both boxing and restaurant helping or hindering? Are my supporting and stabilizing muscles, in tandem developing the mental fortitude with career challenges assisting me to re-enter the world of mountain trail running? These questions dance on the mind constantly.

The mind becomes a hamster in a wheel, spinning thoughts and making excuses, or falling into apathy and a lack of connectivity. The disassociation with my #trailfam has been really tough, and the identity that is defined largely by the individuals in We Run Mas is a massive part of who I have become. Staying true to that person, and the richness that the team has given me, I fear is slipping away. It's probably not true, but the demon lingers, and I must identify it so that it doesn't change who I am while the solitary mode runs its course.

I suppose another limb of the demon is confusion. One of the goals of this blog was to maintain an honest dialogue or journal of what being a runner is to me. It's a large reason why I toyed with, but ultimately denied, doing product reviews. I want to keep my posts raw, emotional and philosophical. There are a lot of places to go look up the next best running pack or a new pair of shoes. So Ultrainspired is more about the journey, and perhaps metaphorically the highs and lows of what being a trail runner is all about.

Being injured is harder than this anyday!
Fact of the matter is, I'm not very good at endurance running, and yet I still enjoy it. I've had my fair share of physical challenges (although I can crush a solid downhill when healthy). My mental challenges were always in check, except for now. Persevering through some hard races and training days was something that became a part of my fabric of being, and I embraced the struggle there.

I'm definitely feeling the stagnation of not running and miss the catharsis it brings. There's only so much that can be done to fill the gap, but at some point, you have to run to feel the sensations of running. Meditation, visualization, escape via cinema, short movies, blogs, running books and other associated tools can not replace the activity itself. The ability to reach Flow State through other means is elusive and remains a mystery. I sometimes feel it when writing, and on occasion at work during a busy rush or a creative meeting, but it comes nowhere near what can be experienced while being surrounded by the majestic forests that live around us.

And so, here I sit. Laptop in hand. Typing away and working through it all.
While enjoying some tea with Mara.

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