It’s been a while since I’ve written here. The end of 2016 was tough for me personally, and I lost the fire to run. From September until the end of the year, I ran maybe once or twice per week, usually no longer than 4 miles. It wasn’t much fun for me.
I have been battling depression for a few years now, and the low points became lower and lower in 2016. I had avoided seeking help because I felt I could manage it on my own. By October of last year I finally began seeing a therapist.
Some sessions later, a vacation to London and Dublin with my best friend, and a lovely holiday season filled with family and friends, and I feel like a new man in 2017.
While depression definitely affected my drive to train and run, I think the continuous disappointments of training for and failing at Ultras began to take it’s toll. I burned out on running for the first time in my life.
I’ve always believed that “burn out” is mostly mental. Sure, people can get so beaten down from training that they can’t continue for physical reasons, that wasn’t my case. I simply lost interest in the process because I knew (thought) it would lead to disappointment. I couldn’t manage another 16 week training cycle that would result in missed goals or another DNF.
As the new year hit, I had been enjoying time with my training buddies outside of running, and it sparked the desire to start running again.
If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that I suck at Ultras and I’m pretty good at mid-distance trail races. And I enjoy them. So as I get back into shape (and it’s happening quicker than I thought), I think I’m going to have fun at races like I used to years ago. Road? Cool. Trail? Cooler. Anything less than 50k? I’m in.
But more than racing, I think this year is about adventures. I have two good friends running 100 mile races this year, and I’m going to be there for them as a pacer or crew member along the way. I want to finally sack up and go for a 3 day run somewhere, probably locally to start just to get the gist of it. I’m investing in light weight gear to finally build out the fastpacking pack I’d like, and making this pipe-dream a reality.
This year’s theme is “Create.” And I expect that takes a lot different forms, but the theme runs through multiple areas of my life:
- Create Balance – work/life balance, family/friend balance, balance of my alone time. Balance is importance to all of us, and it’s a primary focus of the theme.
- Create Healthy Habits – Cut back on the nights out, cook more at home, eat a balanced diet, lay off the lung darts.
- Create Healthy Relationships – Kind of self explanatory.
- Create Art – I have enjoyed sketching for as long as I can remember, and I haven’t nurtured that part of my heart in a long time. I’ve decided to take a sketchbook with me for a recovery run every weekend, take a long pause in the middle to center myself, meditate for a bit, and draw. So far, it’s been amazing for my soul. I encourage you all to do this, whether it’s drawing, writing, photography or playing an instrument – create something in nature; it will be more fulfilling than whatever you create at home.
- Create Tranquility – Mindfulness. Part of this is tied to the Create Art component, but being mindful throughout the day is something that helps to ground us in the present and ignore the insignificant. Along with creating art, having quiet time every day is a part of this goal.
- Create Happiness – Something I’ve learned through therapy is that I have ignored my own desires and needs for too long. This is why I was so unhappy. Focusing on doing the things that make me happy will make me better in all aspects of my life that are important: family, friends, work, running, partnership, exploration, etc. I need to focus more on making myself happy before I can truly make those around me happy, too.
- Create Experiences – I think the true value of life is measured not in the stuff we accumulate, but in the memories we do. I aim to create really incredible memories this year, adventure, and experience life for all it is worth.
So that’s the long and the short of my goals this year. I hope you stay tuned for updates along the way. I have some new gear that I plan to review as soon as I can get it outside and give it a good test. Lots to come friends, looking forward to sharing it with you!
Miles of smiles,