Body

On Running & Longer Distances. – Chris Downie – Medium

Lessons Learned, Tools Earned

“There’s beauty in suffering”

3:45am

The standard “alarm” from my Ipad floods my eardrums like a thick oil. As I turn to swipe it off through foggy eyes I can feel the cold temperature of the bedroom sink into my skin. It’s letting me know it’s going to be a double sweater run this morning. I’m fucking miserable.

Fighting against my every instinct to stay in bed, I break free from the warm “chains” around me and start gearing up. Victory 1 & 2 so far. Sweat pants, 2 sweaters, a buff, gloves, headphones, camelback, small joint (just in case it uber sucks, save your judgements). Once laced up, before I can even give it a second thought i’m out the door. Victory #3.

Standing on the porch I begin to realize not only is it freezing out (by freezing I mean -3 degrees Celsius. I just got back from living in a Caribbean Island, this feels like the arctic) it’s also pouring rain. Normally, I would turn around and say “fuck it” and that would be the end of it. However, today was different. I decided to say “fuck it” but with different, better, intentions.

It takes a while to settle in. Even with good weather it takes me about 2 or 3 km before I actually start enjoying myself. Anything before that is pure misery to me. Powering through it, my sweater begins to soak through and reminds me with every step, as the back of my sweater sticks to my skin. The feeling is similar to someone putting their cold hands up your shirt when you’re nice and cozy. I press on.

As per usual, after about 3–4 miserable kms I begin to feel a tiny sense of what I like to describe as motivated bliss. My mind becomes extremely clear, I can focus on singular topics, I feel like I can take on and do absolutely anything. It’s very close to what I would think honing a superpower would feel like.

In that place. In that moment. Nothing matters. Nothing matters but at the same time everything does. It’s as if for a short time everything is perfect. Everything dissolves. No agenda, no intentions, no worries, no bullshit. Just me and the road.

After running for what seemed like only a short time I realize the sun is beginning to rise. It’s been a while. I have no idea how far it was. I don’t pay attention to that anymore. I now run purely to experience.

Distance, speed, walking breaks, it all means nothing. What’s important is the wisdom I receive with every visit to “that place.” Call it whatever you’re vocabulary will allow but it’s sacred to me. Running brings me there. Time and time again.

Let me reiterate, running for fun is something I hold a deep hatred for. It’s not fun to me. But I endure to reap the benefits. It’s always worth it.

Running has taught me that through resistance in life, there is always a brighter side. The direction of action is not around resistance, it’s straight through. It’s up to you to find that light and wrap your arms around it with all your strength.

Only through varying levels of suffering (remember, suffering is a very subjective topic. What is suffering to me may be heaven to someone else, it depends) do I feel you can achieve this state. I only say this because I have tried what feels like everything to achieve some sort of clarity, some sort of truth and only through this “controlled suffering” have I been able to break through. Everyone has a vehicle to get there. It’s searching for your own unique vehicle that’s important.

Try not to dwell on the semantics and what your idea of suffering is. If you have ever wanted to get into running or a fitness regiment there is no better way to begin than to just begin. Don’t let the fear of injury or not knowing what you’re doing stop you from being better. There is not a perfect time or a perfect amount of knowledge that is superior to just beginning. So quiet those voices inside and get to work.

Everyone may be different but I feel if more people share their ways to access this state, sometimes known as flow, it will illuminate more options for those who haven’t quite found a path yet or maybe have and want to expand their tool box. So be sure to be open about your methods if you have any.

Until next time,

Chris


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