After getting out into the trails again, I realised – for the thousandth time – how much I love nature. I’m the type of person who maxes out their life, trying to get the most done, in the most areas while still living a “balanced” life. As a result, things are pretty stressful day-to-day and week-to-week.
The best fix I’ve found for stress: trail running. It combines the awe of nature, the stillness that you find only on a mountain, and the release you get from an increased heart rate and just sweating it out. Recently, I’ve found that there is a wall when running, and after pushing passed it you get to a place: absolute silence.
For me, it took a little while to get to, and pass, this wall. I train mostly trying to keep my HR at a “relaxed training” pace, around 160bpm. When I run in most trails, generally I push myself more. After the past two runs, I finally realised where that critical point is, how long it takes to push past is, and most importantly – what lies beyond it.
I ran an evening run with Marc and Raoul, and it was pretty intense. Big inclines, peaking HR of 199 and an average HR of 186, over the course of an hour. This morning, bright and early, I hit the pipe track for a solo run. I’m generally aiming for runs that last at least an hour, so I chose a quick pace and kept at it. I was helped by people who out for their own run, and due to my competitive spirit had to keep ahead of them (obviously). This led me to keep my HR above 190 for a good section of the run. This is where my wall is.
After running at a high end pace for even a few minutes, your mind starts: “Maybe you should just take a break. You’re tired, your muscles need to rest”. The way through this is simple in principle: just don’t stop running. Putting this into practice is another story. One foot in front of the other, even if you aren’t pacing it – don’t walk. Rather run slowly until you can run fast again. Once you have mastered this, something starts to change.
The change is subtle, but at one point you just realise how quiet your mind is. The constant chatter subsides to just nothing. No worries, no plans, no stress. The constant focus on the trail, and the pushing beyond your boundaries physically, is an awesome combination. I am starting to realise why people push themselves so much doing ultra’s and breaking boundaries. Right at those limits, there is a slice of nirvana, the “nowness”, that so many people search for.
I’ve managed to find this happiness through trails, and every time I venture into the mountains, I know that I’ll leave with another piece.