I am not an athlete.
From the age of two, I could ride a horse. Between the ages of 11 and 15, I learned both English and Western styles. Then we moved and the closest barn involved a two hour commute. This spelled the momentary end of my horseback riding career, something I will hopefully remedy. Horseback riding makes me feel alive. Galloping along the hills on top of a horse fills me with a strong sensation of freedom. Just me and my steed against the world. Nothing holding you back. It is an intoxicating feeling that I find myself craving. No other athletic activity quite comes close to this feeling of complete and utter freedom of horseback riding.
However, I recently discovered ultra-marathon running. I am not an ultra-marathon runner, I have yet to conquer a regular marathon. An ultra-marathon is a 100 mile, 24 hour long run. A regular marathon is 26.2 miles. I did complete a turkey trot, a 5k, last Thanksgiving.
As a casual runner, I do not totally enjoy running. Occasionally I have experienced the “runners high”, which comes close to replicating what I feel when riding. Not quite the same though. What I do not enjoy about running is the actual process of running. I did spin class until I got too strong for the bike. So I switched over to running for a change.
I may not enjoy running but I love to read about running. Current obsessions include:
The art of running exists in every culture and society. Throw on some shoes and go pound some pavement. Yet anyone who runs soon realizes that the human body actually does not function great at running, especially if you go from zero to 100 in three seconds. Take your time people.
Ultra-marathon running is a fascinating case study in the durability of the human body. If you eat well, practice, stretch, and work hard, you can run 100+ miles without over straining. On one hand the human body sucks at running but gets better once you start training with intentionality. You cannot outrun a poor diet and bad training program.
Ultra-marathoners differ from normal marathoners in intensity and, sometimes, dedication. Running 100 miles takes a bit more intentionality than pounding out 26. It took me three years to go from barely running to pounding out six miles in an hour. I only improved after adding in a weight training regime involving lots of squats and lunges.
I find reading about people achieving great athletic achievements inspiring. If an average guy can take on a 100 mile run with no experience, I can knock out six.
The human body needs to move. Personally, I know I fee better after moving The world becomes a little clearer and less cluttered. I doubt running will ever replace the wondrous freedom of horseback riding, but it comes a lot closer than spinning ever did. Even if you have never run, go for a walk every once in a while. It causes the world to slow down and become less busy.