The loneliness of the long distance runner


The loneliness of a long distance runner is a metaphor I  have always used for solo training. It is not necessarily regulated to distance runners, but solo training is indicative of the dedication and stick-to-itivity, requires to train in obscurity, over uneven terrain and in all kinds of weather, to best be able to compete in distance competition.

Individuals who do distance training, whether in groups or especially solo, are very strong-willed and self motivating people.  Solo training copies life in general, in that distance runners over stand that nobody can do it for you. You have to do it for yourself. Group training is icing on the cake because running in a group gives you support  and succor.

The ancestors know we do need the group to propel us forward and motivate us to higher levels. “Alone we go faster. Together we go farther”.

Today 3:00 a.m, is my eighth day of reset of a reset, of a….well we went through this already! It’s the third straight day of running. Keep in mind that this coming Tuesday was tovbe my target day to test my legs on that next level training.  I am way ahead of schedule.

The toughest part of the run was hitting those stairs midway in the run AND finishing up running with tired legs. This was even AFTER warming up with 100 Hindu squat’s. I then book end the run with Hindu push ups. Hindu push up are a slight variation of the dive bomber push up.  My goal is to get back to doing 500 squats and at least 100 push up straight BEFORE running.

My fitness idol Bruce Lee would do 500 squats, run 5 mile and then finish off with 100 push up. As warm up before training. Shit. ..that is training alone by itself. My personal best was 800 straight squats and 200 straight push ups. I once did this in front of a bunch of muscle heads at the central YMCA. And then did some weights. Finished up and walked out like a boss

But this kind of solo training, as I previously stated mirrors and is a metaphor for life. YOUR LIFE! You don’t have to go to that extreme, but you most over stand that like the loneliness of solo training, you have to push through the doubts, the pain and the negative self talk that urges you to quit, because this is unnecessary. Or it takes too long. Or it’s not sexy enough. But sexy enough for who? Are you embarking on your life’s journey to please others? Or are you embarking on it to realize and hit your potential.

“To know one thing, is to know 10,000 things”!

As I came of the stairs and proceeded to run again, I realized that while I was pushing through it, my legs, lungs and mind were all conspiring to get me to stop. And in realizing this I also noted that not once in these three days did I bend over to catch my breath. I was always moving. Again in life as in solo training, our minds will create unpleasant scenarios, due to the fact that the mind and the body fiercely seek a place of comfort. Not discomfort. Winners though, “say be comfortable in doing the uncomfortable”. Or as the late great Steve Cokely stated…”do shit in all kinds of conditions”!

As I started running again, my surgical knee said, “enough of the bullshit”! And each time I ignored it, it threatened to pitch me to the ground. This again is indicative of life throwing a wrench into the mix. So what do you do? Do you fight through the challenge and perhaps further hurt yourself ? Do you stop all together and end up feeling guilty later on? Cause you know this will happen. Or do you find another way of completing the task. What I did was power walk the last 800 meters.  I didn’t like it, but life is not so much about likes and dislike, but it’s about adjustments  and reset.

So I let that disappointment of not finishing running flow through me and away from me. Like water.

Tell me if this is not the best metaphor for life. Being like water allows non attachment to anything. Yet in embracing this non attachment, everything is impacted by you. My current limitation has been a source of consternation to me. Sometimes I feel like Al Bundy, whose only claim to fame is scoring those five touch downs in a high school game. Thus he became a high school legend and a legend in his own mind, moving forward.

We have all had moments of tremendous success, that stay buried in our secret place. Many of us pull those moments out like picture albums, to show the visiting guests. Even when the pictures are faded, we still pull them out. But to be successful you have to live in the moment, while planning for the future. Living in the past will never allow that to happen.

The last-minute should be forgotten and the present should be your focus, else you become conflicted. This is life. Two different thoughts cannot occupy your mind. Solo training is about knowing yourself at the most basic level.  You learn to deal with doubts and fears. Actually both are interchangeable.

There are only two things that evoke fare naturally in us. The fear of falling. And the falling fear of loud noise. These two are hard-wired in our nervous system. Every other fear is manufactured by our minds. And they are crippling. They are debilitating. They make us lose focus. Many a training have been aborted out of fear. Many things in life are aborted out of fear. Fear of losing someone or something. Fear of failure, or even worse…fear of success.

We approach solo training…well…I have approached solo training not in a haphazard way anymore. But like Musashi wrote so many centuries ago. Let your martial arts stance be your everyday stance. And your everyday stance be your martial arts stance. You can’t be a martial artist and think like a non martial artist.  But you can be a cook or a gardener with the mentality of a martial artist.

How so you say? By being focused, skillful, calm under pressure, being prepared by practicing so much it becomes as natural as breathing. I always use to say my late father could turn a desert into a forest.  He was an actual artist, who translated his energy to gardening. This man didn’t just grow plants. He grew plant that looked like trees. This is how you can make transformation in life. By knowing one thing and 10,000 things.

The solo training and loneliness of the long distance runner is not necessarily a sad thing. What it is, is a lesson in knowing the self. Becoming one with the self and thus the universe.

This must be meditated on.

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