Poetry, Music, Forests, Oceans, Solitude -They were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race. -Herb Elliot, Olympic Champion & World Record Holder in the Mile, who trained in bare feet, wrote poetry, and retired undefeated.
One of the reasons I have always run is to achieve a sense of peacefulness and solitude within my mind. Our lives are filled with hustle and bustle and ‘things to do’, and, without outlets, such as running, solitude can soon be nonexistent. I can remember being deep in the throws of nursing school in Boston. I had countless hours of studying and clinical, and, after navigating Boston traffic or the “T”, little patience for much else. However, one thing I knew for sure, was that in order for me to be successful in school, I had to first take care of myself. Of course, I did not have enough time (usually) to drive up to some fun trail in the woods, but, instead, I embraced the city greenery along The Charles, in and around The Boston Common, and, The Minuteman Trail. I found that even a 40 minute run would change my perspective on my day, give me energy, and, focus me to get my work done more effectively.
This summer, while running the Long Trail, I have had to learn how to take time off in order to rest so that my running can be sustained for the entire 272 miles. Now, with approximately 190 miles complete, I have a few minor bruises and scrapes, sore feet, and a huge smile. Just yesterday, while we did not get onto the trail until later than expected, finished w/a headlamp, and quite literally fell into the car, we had a blast.
The section completed yesterday between Appalachian Gap and Camel’s Hump is extremely technical, full of elevation gain and descent, and, drawn together with panoramic views of the Vermont countryside -from Lake Champlain to Mt. Mansfield and beyond. I was exhausted, as was my running partner, Brian. We both have worked, and been on the trail, a lot lately, and, it was late. At one point, as we climbed a rocky mammoth of what appeared to be a staircase to the sky, he asked me “Hey, how you holding up?” Without thinking, I answered “Mind over Matter.”
I guess that is just where the strength must come from sometimes. You can use gels, energy bars, train your tail off, but, sometimes, or, I would argue, most times, it is the training of the mind that is what will get you through.