My running did not always lend itself to modesty, though it should have. The better I got at running, especially at the start as I got faster, my modesty evaporated.
I was at my peak of fast running over short distances up to 12 km in 1986. I was not that good in reality just now and then sneaking under 4 minutes a km up 10km, but I felt like a real athlete. I knew the base I had come from within two years and was proud of the progress
I did not have an ounce of modesty and was very confident in my running which cut across to my life in. So much so that I did not see any issues in what I said and did.
On reflection this lack of modesty, and more so not even recognising the need for modesty, did have negative impacts on my life and running.
Lesson learnt and I would do things so differently now.
All through my life I have struggled with the concept of excellence. Many years ago, I came across the quote:
“Don’t let perfect get in the way of better.”
I believe everyone has something that they can be excellent at but the trick for me was working the journey to find this excellence.
I need patience when it comes to excellence in my running.
I have found a sweet spot. I am comfortable that 6 km running is my special niche. It took me a while to get here but if I have anything, I could claim to be good at it is #6kmrunning
As for excellence I am still looking.
All my running embraces an appreciation of the places in which I run.
When Standing Bear was moved off his land in the 1880s in USA, he said the following:
“ If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”
Running has always been for me about the place I am running in and the experiences of these places. When I think of my running I initially think of where I have run, where I am running and where I will be running the future.
Whether it is Bowral, St Ives, Berowra, Galston, Avoca, Main Beach and for the past twenty years Pennant Hills, running in each of these places evoke memories, experiences and associated emotions.
I am drawn to arid landscapes like Tibooburra. I was last there in 1982 and remember fondly the people I travelled with, the locals, the footprints of explorers like Charles Sturt, who endured like and ultra-runner. I just want to go back and run the dry saltpan between the sand dunes of Sturt National Park on the way to Cameron’s Corner – one day.
Sense of place: knowing oneself – Standing Bull was onto something.
My first history university essay question was :
“History is nothing more the justification of the winning side by scholarly means.”
I started running in 1984 and I do view my running in the past through rose coloured glasses but don’t necessarily justify successes or otherwise by any means.
I have kept records and I am glad I did.
In 1984 I started what I called the pubbook where at the end of the week while having beers to wrap up the week and prepare for the weekend. I would write about all sorts of things including running and in fact other people would write in the Pubbooks as well. I have a dozen of these books and then went to different forms of digital pub pools such as blogs, word documents and now social media posts.
I had a brief period of disillusion and tossed out some detailed running logs in the 1990s and tossed a lot of records. Thankfully I do now have a pretty good supply of my own primary sources documenting my past experiences of running. Fortunately, the memory is still pretty good, but the logs are useful to check dates, times and events.
The pub book was one of the best things I did while having a beer in a pub in Bowral in 1984.
I spend a moment of each day projecting forward to where and when my run will be for the day.
Runs are locked in the week ahead factoring in life to determine which days I can run, then when I can run on these days. This is part of a monthly road map of getting to at least 100 km per month and if I reach 100 km early, I give myself a taper towards the end of the month, providing my body a rest not for a race.
It is extremely rare for me to run in the morning except when training for the Host City Marathon in 2000. Typically, I run in the evening either just prior to a late meal or after dinner on a weekday.
I cannot imagine my future without running but I do imagine my future with a changed nature of running – a lot slower, more walking and shuffling but there will always be one step after the other.
In 1986 I had to travel from Bowral to Parramatta for a tax audit. I rarely do anything wrong and when it comes to tax don’t deduct anything.
I was nervous and annoyed because I thought the tax person I had would deal with the situation. I had some time to spare and went into Dymocks and popped into the New Age area of the bookshop which was a trend in the 1980s. I was flicking through a good book on Buddhism by Christian Humphries and stopped on then chapter on Buddhism for Westerners. It was here I came specifically across Zen Buddhism and the importance of living in the here and now.
There are only a handful of runs in over 20 000km of running where I have been in the moment and conscious of this moment. Often my mind is in the past and the future, but I have to let go to be in the present.
I often don’t know I am in the present until after it has passed. I run on the road against the traffic and I can sense the traffic but don’t think about it. I used to be able to bound down single bush tracks leaping between rocks and not thinking and as soon as I started thinking about what I was doing I risk the chance of a fall.
Sometimes I try and consciously be present to the moment to the sound of semi-trailers on Pennant Hills Road, the rhythm of people running next to me in races or the sound of the silence on a bush run – until I realise, I am lost and then panic sinks in.
That trip to Parramatta changed the philosophical direction of my life and running.
The by-line in my pub book and social media is:
Running and Life: Life and Running
The biggest compromise in my Life on the Run is the relationship between running and life.
In the early years, particularly the 1980s, it was all about running and a bit of life, in the latter years, including now, it is as about running being part of life but an important part of life.
There is a tension associated with running as I have had have competing social, personal, family, professional and running priorities.
I have been known to skip social events, leave them early, being uncooperative in the organisation of functions, missed my mother’s 80th birthday, and resentful of social events, including my 25th birthday because I had to miss a triathlon.
I have to live with these decisions.
The only pressure I feel in running is making sure I get the time to go for my run. If I miss runs even for a for a short period of time, I am irritable and not pleasant to be with – nor I would want to be with myself as well.
The stress running comes from not being able to run.
Initially, it was stress over not accepting I was slowing down, then it was accepting walking was ok, I got stress over running not reducing weight and now it is hoping I don’t get and injury that will prevent me from permanently running.
I accept there will be a time when I won’t be able to run – then I will substitute another stress.