This Is Forty

Wow, I've reached 40 years old. It's been suggested that I'm now old, but I don't feel it. Not a bad milestone to stimulate a little thinking. One question I have been asked a lot is why run?

Some things just feel right. They can be different for every person. Some are lucky they find what elevates them early. Most will have to try many activities to discover what clicks for them. What resonates within you may also change over time.

For myself I had the first indicators running was for me back in primary school. I wasn't fast, sprints were almost embarrassing, but I ran the school cross country (2-3km). I wasn't in winning contention. I don't think I could have run any faster, but there were two things that stuck out in my mind. Firstly, on finishing I felt like I could just go and run the race again at the same pace. More importantly I absolutely loved the running itself.

From there I didn't go into heavy running, but off and on I dabbled in it. I did some street and park orienteering and performed surprisingly well in some local events. During my teenage years my main sport was table tennis. Part of training included going for a run every so often. Usually that was around Albert Park Lake. This was a nice, flat 5km loop (4.691km to be exact). Over time I found myself running with the different squads who each did only one loop. But on some days I was getting 3 or 4 laps in (15-20km) without even thinking about it. I just ran with anyone who was interested.
The point when I really discovered running was for me was when I decided to go and watch the Melbourne Marathon. After checking out various points along the course I found I stayed at the 34km mark. To me this was better than the finish line. This was where the suffering of a marathon stands out. It is far enough that the pain is at its maximum. It is also far enough from the finish the racers can genuinely doubt if they have what it takes to make it. This is where the marathon is the hardest for many. I was drawn to it and wanted to see if I had what it takes too.

This led to years of endurance sports, running, marathons, triathlon, ironman triathlons and a mixture of other races. During some of these races I learnt some things about myself. There is nothing like extreme fatigue, hunger and prolonged pain to help reveal your deep traits. I discovered I was mentally strong. Not all the time, but often when it really counted. This did put my body at risk in a couple of races, so I had to learn to throw in a little extra thinking.

Now that I'm forty years old, running is part of who I am. It weaves through the rest of my life and I think it adds to it rather than demanding sacrifices. I tend to choose races that have a big question mark around if I can finish them while sometimes throwing in a ridiculous time goal for my level. This creates those moments when I truly feel I reach my flow state. A state when I just know I'm getting the absolute best out of myself.


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