June 18, 2019

The Healing Mystery

There are moments when writers block rears its ugly head. One way to slay this beast is to deploy a set of headphones, dial up a song, and let the music take the steering wheel. Let this song be considered the author of this post. 

Have you ever had an epiphany? You know, per Merriam Webster, when you stumble upon "an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking." These can take the form of life changing wake-up calls or realizations that change your perspective on, well, just about anything. I might have had an epiphany this last Sunday. 

It wasn't anything sudden, like when one is hit with a lightening bolt of awareness about a past life or something, but more of a gradual awakening to the truth that seeps into one's consciousness surreptitiously, like the realization that training the mind is just, if not more, important that training the body. Long sentence, I know.

It occurred to me last Sunday that my body is a lot more complex than I realized. Sure, when I push it too hard and too long, it breaks down. I knew that. It's why I'm an idiot more often than I'd like to admit. It's when I'm trying to heal the body when the mystery emerges.

More to follow.        



June 10, 2019

On Pain and Suffering

It's been said there are two types of suffering. The kind you run away from, which follows you everywhere, and the kind that you turn and face. And it is only that kind, that you turn and face, that brings you to freedom.

I was recently quoted in another article on marijuana and ultra running. In that article the author interviews several ultra runners who use cannabis to soften the pain and suffering they encounter out on trail. "You stop thinking about how sore everything is" said one runner. These runners don't see it as an ethical issue, despite that fact that marijuana is generally banned in both professional and amateur sports.

Based on a recent survey conducted by University of Colorado at Boulder, it appears marijuana use is on the rise in many states where it has been legalized. Turns out 82% of those who responded to the survey that live in marijuana-legal states use it within one hour before or four hours after working out.

As I've stated in this blog, I believe the use of marijuana is very appropriate for people who are recovering from or dealing with medical ailments, be it chronic pain or the side effects of treating life-threatening disease. But to use it to mask the suffering that comes with one's chosen sport like ultra running, as difficult as it might be? Sorry folks. I don't think so.  

In America, we live in a culture that is hell-bent on avoiding pain. I suppose this should come as no surprise. After all, one of our most famous founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, said "the art of life is the art of avoiding pain." It would appear that big Pharma took their lead from Jefferson. Got a headache? Slam some Advil. Heartburn? Swallow some Rolaids. Stuffy nose? Down the Sudafed. Sore throat? Suck on a Chloraseptic. 

I also oppose using ibuprofen during races and training. Again, why bother being a runner if you can't handle the pain. Why not take up golf instead?

If pain wasn't indelibly imprinted into the DNA of distance running, then I would have turned to golf a long time ago. But I think it is, because one need not look further than the words of some of world's greatest runners of all time. Roger Bannister, the first human being to break the 4 minute mile said "the man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win."

Frank Shorter, a silver and gold medalist in the marathon, talked about running and pain holistically. Shorter: "experience has taught me how important it is to just keep going, focusing on running fast and relaxed. Eventually pain passes and the flow returns. It's part of racing." I'm guessing Shorter wasn't smoking joints to get back to "flow."