The eternal question… Why we run

After a wonderful break over the holiday period, it’s time to hit running with both feet smacked firmly in a pool of mud. Or rather, that was exactly what I was doing last night at the Narrabeen Allnighter Midnight marathon. I like to kickstart the year with a bang and this article about why we run, does just that. Probably a little too deep and meaningful for the second week of January, but what the heck hey?

On a personal front, there are some big changes for me in 2019. This ultimately means more time focused and dedicated to Ultra168.

Much of this was inspired by a chat with someone whom I regard as a mentor – the same person that inspired this article. Our discussion revolved around how our lives are broken down into waves / cycles of nine years. And it wasn’t until I thought about the significant changes that had occurred during the previous nine, did I gain a deep appreciation for the fact that 2019 was indeed the start of this next wave and big change.

For perhaps almost the entire time this website has been in existence, I’ve shied away from answering the question of why we run. I know many people have attempted to answer this on their personal blogs, and indeed on other popular sites and magazines.

You may find this article reads like a lot of self-fulfilling bullshit. But, it wasn’t until my conversation, did I gain true clarity to write it.

What are you running from?

I’m sure many of us have encountered a rather common response from those friends who ask, ‘What are you running from?’. The notion being that if you run great distances, who or what are you seeking to hide away from? Are we running from something in our lives? Something we don’t want to face up to or encounter just yet? This could well be the case for a few.

But, as our conversation evolved more deeply, he noticed I ran towards things. To look for answers to challenges or issues in my life. Not to get away from them. I merely sought to find a solution.

This could be working out a campaign idea for a client at work. A chance to think about my family and how the next 12 months would shape up. Indeed, developing new ideas for this website, such as Patreon.

And I find the best time to look for answers is on the trail. It’s not even about ultra running, even though this is the emphasis of this website. In fact, probably one of the few reasons I choose to run ultras is because I like to chew over some quite deeply complex challenges over a period of many hours. Or rather it takes me hours to come to a solution.

Why we run – our environment

But you also need the right type of environment. Which is why I say answers come to me when I’m on the trail. I often find it incredibly hard to focus when I’m running on the streets of Sydney. There are far too many distractions to consider. This means I find it tough to zone out and simply become bored.

The irony is that out on the trail, with minimal things to distract, I’m at my best. All I need are two things. A trail and trees.

Trees for example, make me happy. In fact, they’re scientifically proven to improve your health in a term coined by the Japanese as ‘Forest bathing’. With such minimalism in the bush, your brain wanders. Drawn towards what it needs to consider at that moment in time. Indeed, pretty much any major decision I’ve made in the last ten years I’ve been running ultras has come about on the trails. They draw me towards the answer, not to shy away from it.

So if this resonates with you. The next time someone asks why you run crazy ass distances in the bush – and often at an ungodly hour, show them this.



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Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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