Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Chasing The White Rabbit

Today I had yet another epiphany while I was running. Slogging my fat butt down the road has quickly become the primary source of wondrous thoughts and flights of fancy. It used to be the shower but I'm now spending more time in my running shoes than I do lathering up. Although the shower still offers a bit of a refuge from the crazy world of real life.

Today's run was no different than any other except for the epiphany. Just an easy 5 miles on my usual stomping ground. The epiphany was based on my previous run, a 12 mile jaunt through the woods on the local trail that's a former railroad bed. The epiphany was that I live for LSD and continually chase after the high I get before, during, and after. For you non-runner types out there, LSD is what us nerdy runners call a Long Slow Distance run. In other words, our long run of the week. The exact distance isn't so much a factor as much as the effort for each individual. Your LSD may be longer or shorter than mine. You may take yours in the morning or overnight. None of those factors matter. What matters is the high you get.

Yes, many of us have heard of the proverbial runner's high. It's just as common as people saying "you're almost there" or "it's all downhill from here" when you're running a race. But unlike those annoying phrases, the high is real. Just like hitting the wall, these token phrases have real weight out there for the runner. And like a drug addict, I feel like I can only keep my life together long enough for my next high, for my next hit of LSD.

Having never done drugs and being a very, very light drinker (as in a 6-pack of beer will last 6 months in my house), I can't relate to drug users. I don't know what it's like to snort, smoke, or inject anything illegal into my body. But I can tell you what it's like to go for a long run and feel the high you get. The excitement you feel before the run, the jitters that are nearly as bad as pre-race jitters, the excitement of spending hours in the woods with only yourself and the talking trees. I can tell you what it feels like to suffer through the long run, to feel the pain in your feet, your knees, your hips. To break through that pain and suddenly feel the rush of owning your body and owning the run. To feel the power of the dirt beneath your feet coursing through your body. And I can tell you how wonderful it feels to finally put an end to the pain and suffering at the end of a run. To throw your hands in the air even though there isn't a finish line. To feel the rush of emotions in knowing that you have conquered a distance that seems to far, even driving a car. To feel the aches and pains the next day that speak volumes about the effort you put forth.

All of this went through my head during today's run. A measly 5 mile run that just couldn't match the high I just had from a 12 mile run. I can only imagine it's like a whiff of cigarette smoke to somebody that's just quit smoking. You just can't resist the pull. And so I wanted to push through, to go further than my plan, to throw everything away just to get that LSD high again.

I was finally able to reel myself in and stick to what my training plan called for. I just broke the 30 mile per week barrier and I didn't want to put my goals at risk. I knew if I pushed too hard I would eventually score an injury instead of a high and wind up on the sidelines with no chance of running for weeks (or longer). That fear of losing the runner's high kept me cautious. It kept me sane, though barely. It kept me focused on the long term goals I have set. Some are firm, some are soft. Some are just so insane I'm afraid to even think about them. But I know that with each of these goals, comes a high twice as strong as the LSD high. You see, there's another level of runner's high when you run races. And when you combine a race with an LSD high it's triple strength. And since many of these goals are races AND long runs, you can imagine the excitement I have. And best of all, even if I completely fail at the race, even if I don't finish, I know I'll have a ton of LSD runs under my belt. All those weeks of getting high every weekend as I run down the road or through the woods. All those weeks of chasing that white rabbit.

One final note. I had a second, smaller, epiphany during my run today. So I'll leave you with a new slogan. Bask in the glow of a mind addled by coming down from an LSD high:

No Run
No High
Know Run
Know High

No comments: