It is said that trail runners are a strange bunch, that they are possibly wired a little differently to normal people, and to other runners.
Trail running can be and is exhausting, frustrating, painful, scary and dangerous. It is however, also enlightening, uplifting, courageous, anti-depressive and fun. Let’s unpack.
Eckhart Tolle, a German-born writer living in Canada wrote a very famous book, one of the most famous spiritual books of all time, called ‘The Power Of Now.‘ In it, Tolle explains that in order to be happy, one needs to understand that you have to live in the present, or in ‘the now.’
You can’t live in the past, because that has already happened and you cannot revisit it, and you cannot live in the future, because it hasn’t happened yet and you don’t know what it is going to look like or how it is going to happen. You can only live in the Now, the very moment that you are. The moment you are reading these words, or the moment I am writing them, is all that you have.
Runners live in the Now. Whether it is on the road or on trail, they are living and breathing and experiencing so much as it happens. Going for a run is not about the preparation, nor is it about the post-run beer or the cool down – it is about running with all senses wired, everything is happening, and as your body reacts in many different ways to the exertion, your eyes, ears, nose and your mind react to the constantly changing environment.
Surfing is the same. You’re living and operating in the Now. When you take off on a wave it has the same sort of reaction. Your body adapts and reacts to what it is tasked with doing, and your senses react to the barrage of information that comes with riding a wave, or pulling into a tube. All you have is that moment on the ride, or on the run, exactly where you are.
It was the famous South African surfer and 1977 world surfing champion Shaun Tomson who compared the two sports succinctly. “It’s that feeling of freedom and openness, it is a commonality that surfers and runners share,” said Shaun. “It’s a feeling of being connected and part of a larger world, that you fit in.”
It’s a technique that will help you to run any race, to complete any task, to have strength to get you through situations that you never thought possible. Just to live in the moment. If you are running, and experiencing what you are going through, you don’t need to think of what happened earlier in the day, nor do you need to worry about what might happen this evening. Looking back often gives you regret, and looking into the future will make you nervous.
However, on a physical and more realistic level, there are two main challenges to getting through the three-stage Endurade JBay X Trail Run. The first, according to last year’s Women’s winner and current record time holder Landie Greyling, is running at night. This is not easy for the inexperienced, especially if there are rivers or holes in the tracks. “In your training I would include a night run or two, to adapt to running at night with a headlamp, “ said Landie.
The other challenge is the short break between the first day run and the night run. “This is when you have the least recovery time, and you’ll probably feel a quite stiff,” said Landie.
All you have to do is live in the Now and ignore the stiffness, and you’ll have no problem with smashing the three-stage event. It’s actually that simple.