DAVID SHAW
ULTRARUNNER

Stories of Ultra running

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Things I think about when I think about running

"Just do whatever you want, because that's what you'll end up doing anyway" pretty much sums up my thoughts on the last 2 months training. Someone said that to me the other day, and in one sentence it collectively described my thoughts on my training for this years Tooting Bec race, and everything I have thought about in the lead up to it. So how did I get here?


If we rewind a few years before all this running carry on had a grip on me. At the time I don't even think I was running. Maybe I was going out a few runs a week or whatever to help stem me looking like I was wearing a rubber ring under my T shirt, who knows. It's irrelevant. I stumbled across some youtube videos about the now infamous David Goggins running some races, one of which was Badwater. I couldn't believe folk could actually run that far, in that heat, in one go. Seemed unreal. Anyway that very thing I was watching it must have triggered something, and here I am years later about to embark on another days running. albeit in much cooler weather and zero climbing in the entire day. I know I would have found running again anyway had it not been for these videos and I know it will never leave me but I seem to have been thinking recently is the cost of it all too much. I don't mean the money spent (of which I constantly underestimate or just lie about to make it seem cheaper). But am I spending too many of my life tokens on this rather than other things?


Time is a strange thing, It's one of the few constant things in life which will never change and ask anyone you know, when it all comes down to it that's all people want. A few seconds here with a gone loved one, or more time to chase a dream, more time to buy back that time you wasted. So am I wasting all my life tokens doing this when I should be doing other things? It's made me ponder why I do it all and there are a few reasons I think.


1 - I love it. Similar to who you fall in love with, you can't help it. Simply I love it. And everything about it. At times (most notably 2am when it is hosing down) it's a love/hate relationship and I wish I preferred playing darts, but I love the drive it brings me and to keep going when you absolutely don't want to. Sometimes I have this, sometimes I don't. But no matter the result - I love it and I never want to be without it.


2 - I live in hope that it teaches my kids stuff that you don't get from book learning. I really hope they see me going out when I don't feel like it, when there are a million things I'd rather be doing and still go, and take that into their own life in whatever avenue they take, be it sports, work, family or whatever. It's what gets me out the door most days. There are two times to work hard - when you feel like it, and when you don't.


3 - It's amazing for your head space. his seems like a popular topic these days which is amazing, but exercise is great for mental health. This is not to say that I struggle with this - I like everyone else I'm sure have up and down days, but I worry what would happen if I gave it all up. I doubt it would be pretty. There is an interesting youtube video I came across which I feel sums up my thoughts on this pretty well - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwIE0cSaniA - worth a watch.


4 - It's a distraction for other less favorable addictions whatever they may be. Take for example alcohol (replace with whatever you see fit) with which many people struggle. I'm not saying I do but at times my alcohol intake is a good bit above the limits of what it should be. So am I just switching potential addictions to something that benefits me physically instead of giving me back that rubber ring? Can you even be addicted to something that only brings you good things? If I say I'm addicted to loving my kids, which I am, it sounds ridiculous and surely isn't a real addiction because nothing bad can ever come out of me loving my kids more than anything else. But say you are addicted to running and people go mad. But therein lies the question - is it only bringing me good things?


I've said many times that running (for me) is a selfish sport. I just spend so much time away from the house, for little in return so surely this running thing isn't all good. I freely admit that I am very selfish when it comes to running. Pick a time of year and ask me what my priority is, and if you happen to ask me in the lead up to a race, the answer will be different to what people expect, or hope to hear. I wake up every day and usually my initial thought is to what I am running that day before anything else. Poor, I know. But it's all in the balance. I know I'm never going to stop running completely, I just couldn't. And I don't want to be some half arsed effort that teaches the girls to be half arsed with their life choices. All in or not at all. Moderation is for cowards.


So where does that leave me? Exactly where I have been for years. I wrote ages ago about feeling like I was constantly throwing everything that matters to me up in the air, and doing my best to catch them all on the way back down before one of them broke. Things just seem heavier and more important now. I hardly see my big girl, probably more so because I'm not cool these days and the little one is finding it increasingly hard to be dropped elsewhere daily for me to put on my manky trainers and run. This works both ways. Work is taking way more than 40 hours a week of my life, and on top of that, I spend zero time with my wife, partly down to work, but mostly down to all my efforts and conversation being concentrated around running. It was our anniversary the other day (2 years woop woop!!) and in the 4 hours we spent together I had to volunteer that I would not mention running the entire time, much of which was me wanting to scream out "I'VE JUST ENTERED LAKELAND". I managed not to shout over dinner but I think I failed and eluded to it later in the evening. I mean the first full 2 days together we will have for as long as I can remember and I'm spending it running around a track. At least I'll see Mrs Shaw every 400m. And more credit to Mrs Shaw for encouraging me even though she finds it tougher than I do.


Looking back at the last 8 weeks or so, physically I feel great, probably better than I have ever felt. But I have sure felt this training way more than any other ones. A combination of loads of things has proved tough and I'm just wondering if it's all worth it. I think it is. But something has to give - maybe I need to organise better and actually do early morning runs instead of late night ones, but work just hasn't allowed that. A wise man once said "Bill I believe this is killing me, as the smile ran away from his face" which is how I have felt on just about single mile that I have ran this summer. One of the things that makes me feel so alive is maybe killing some other more important aspect of my life.


It's not my intention for this to come across as if I'm wallowing in self pity, because I am absolutely not. I just find it tough. And I just find it all so selfish. I see it as a team sport - I couldn't do any of this without my wife and kids, but it just seems to punish them and test them and their resolve more than it does mine.


"Just do whatever you want, because that's what you'll end up doing anyway" made me feel pretty shit, but it entirely sums me up. But I really truly believe that it will all be worth it. Reason number 2 is more important to me than anything, so hopefully my selfish ways will prove worth it in years to come. If not then I've got loads of spare T shirts.


#runrhaw #ultrarunning




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