Already a Runner
Since moving from Queensland to Tasmania three years ago, I have delighted at the amazing hikes all over this incredible state. From the in-town trails on Mt Wellington, through to 10-hour days spent hiking to Cape Piller or the Walls of Jerusalem. But running? That is new.
To date, I had only attempted small bursts of running amidst my walking. But, following a hiking trip to Everest Base Camp, I took the extra level of fitness I’d gained and ran my first 5 km – so damn proud.
On a recent trip to the mountain, I decided to mix the two: I wanted a taste of trail running.
I was on the mountain alone – I usually hike as a pair – and the track suddenly seemed a lot longer than planned. My casual Sunday afternoon introductory trail run, that I had relished to tackle in solidarity, suddenly left me panicked that I wouldn't reach my car before dark. So, I pushed myself to run beyond my limits. I got dizzy and anxious until I was feeling ill. Moments from throwing up, I managed to find some common sense and sit myself down.
Amongst the forest, on a mossy rock, I listened to the trickling water and intellectualised that my mind and body were competing for top spot instead of working together. I told my brain how amazing it was, but this was the time to take a back seat and let my body do what it instinctively knows what to do.
When I caught my breath, I got up, and started off with nice big strides straight up the steep sections of the Myrtle Gully Track. As I reached Junction Cabin, I saw the sign noting only one hour and twenty-minutes to my car parked at The Springs. I smiled a big grin to myself - I was in perfect timing.
As I began the last section, I pictured my brain in the back seat of a car, and placed this space just behind my head, watching my body. I managed big long stretches of running on this last section, taking the time down to forty-five minutes.
In the slower, steady, running strides that neared me to my goal, I found ease in recognising when to let my head lead, and when to silence the thinking and trust my body. I created a silence within, so my body could hear itself and adjust accordingly.
As my confidence came running back to me, I took big strides and zoomed around the corners – leaning in like you would on a bike – with the cold mountain air kissing my cheeks.
As the trees gave way to the clearing of The Springs I found my little Corolla waiting to take me home. I realised that there was no point ‘trying’ to be a runner. I already was.
Deep inside we all know what needs to happen, but so often we panic, we doubt, and our head gets so noisy we cannot hear the simple guiding words from within: We already are what we desire to be. We are our best friend and our worst enemy, and we need to create the space for friendship, so a war doesn't take over. We are best served by cultivating healthy adventures of the mind and body in this magnificent life.