Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The journey.....or the destination?

Yesterday was hot. Very hot. The kind of day where your life energy seems to have deserted you and all you feel good for is lounging around, gradually feeling more irritated. I usually like running in the heat, like the freedom of being able to run in just shorts and shoes, but yesterday even got me. I waited and waited for the temperatures to ease and by the time I laced up the flats it was approaching 9pm. The run was easy, about 10 miles and by the time I reached back to the carabanger , it was turning dark. As I hit the last section of road before home I started to increase the pace, as is normal at the end of most of my runs. The heat was still present, and as I reached halfway down the home straight, I started to feel it. It was then that a thought entered by head. I slowed down, and as I reached the banger , was feeling a mixture of exhilaration and calmness.

In my current circumstance I have felt self imposed pressure to produce some sort of race performance which would leave me feeling satisfied with myself. I have chosen not to work for a while, not particularly to run, but have a chance to experience life at a slower pace. However I have had more time to run and felt that if I did not start running better, then the whole experience would be abit of a waste of time. As I made it halfway down the last straight, the thought that entered my head was the question of the journey and the destination. Most running I do is with a destination in mind- a race, a performance, whatever. Most of the running anyone does has a destination in mind- to lose weight, get fitter, whatever. As most wise people will tell you , it is the journey, not the destination, that is to be savored. Enjoy the present, don't think too much of where it will all lead. This got me thinking, ' Is it possible to enjoy running as a journey with no destination?"

I know plenty of runners who train hard and race hard and often. It is the competitive aspect of the personality that gives them the determination to get out on those cold, dark winter nights - the thought of that target race of the year or new pb. I know plenty of runners who don't train hard, but like to race. However I don't know any runners ( well, maybe one) who train hard, but do not have the desire to race. Is it possible for someone to continue running ,say 100 miles a week, with absolutely no plans to race? To enjoy the journey so much that there does not need to be a destination. In some pursuits competition is frowned upon by the purists. The original Yosemite dirtbags looked with derision at the advent of competitive climbing, and so was the case with surfing. To love the actual act of running in so much as that it is all you need is surely a desirably thing. To love the purity, the expression of freedom, so much that the ego does not need reassurance from race performance. To know the journey is, in itself, enough. That you do not need a destination.


franmills said...

Sometimes you put up with a journey just to reach the destination, but so much better to enjoy and appreciate the journey. To have no destination seems a little fruitless though. Interesting thought. ;O)

franmills said...

All day I have continued to ponder - journey or destination - applying it to a variety of life journeys, academic, professional, emotional, spiritual and emotional. I finally got it. My journey is the destination - its both. Perhaps that's what you meant, but it took me a while to get there. As a new inexperienced runner the destination holds more joy than the journey, but i hope that changes.

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