Sunday, February 18, 2018


I'm striving all right. After all that's what Strava means. Strava being the popular fitness tracking app known to all walks of athletes around the world. I racked up right around 4000 km of running with over 120,000 meters of elevation gain in 2017 and I would be lying if I said it isn't a point of pride for me.

I've been training and improving steadily for about 6 to 7 years and more importantly made some meaningful personal friendships along the way. Yes, I really enjoy the camaraderie with the broader ultra running community, but for me it's more about the few deeper more personal relationships forged out on the trails over many hours and days of running together. Mind you, there are certainly a lot of names on my “people who are awesome and with whom I would love to hang out more if my schedule allowed for it” list.

So everything is great right? I'm thriving! I might have agreed to that even a few short weeks ago. Since then I strained a tendon in my leg which refuses to get better, got fired from a new job I had started less than a week before, contracted the flu and clipped our neighbour's car while parking the other night.

What's that? Suck it up? That's life you're saying? I actually agree. I'm not soliciting pity. I’m happy with my lot in life. Just being at home trying to recuperate has afforded me a chance to reflect on the lessons that life is trying to teach me right now. Now you may or may not believe that there is a lesson to be learned from these kind of life events. For me though lacking the physical strength right now is helping me to slow down and observe what's going on around me.

How did I end up putting so much pride and effort into often marginal athletic gains while at the same time failing to curb my sarcasm towards those around me? How did I end up prioritizing checking my cell phone for umpteenth time to take in some information with little or no relevance to my life over connecting with my wife, kids, friends and family? Why is it so hard for me to let go of this false sense of control over the things around me? Why can I not stop myself for example from interrupting people while they are talking, although I know it to be selfish and inconsiderate and I'm still holding out hope that I have neither of those traits? Why does it elude me to be more gentle, kind and patient more consistently?

I certainly wouldn't agree if you told me that I'm not showing up for my family. I do. In all honesty though there are too many times where they have to make due with what's left of me after exercising, working and doing chores. Now I'm certainly never going to be one to propagate total self-sacrifice of your own needs and interests in order to better be able to take care of those around you. I don't believe that is a sustainable approach to things. I am very fortunate to have a schedule that affords me with ample time to exercise without sacrificing family time. On the flip side it does leave me with less time at home with my family when they are off though. So in that respect it's double sad when despite everybody's best intentions we all end up being zombies on our individual screens and wasting precious opportunities to connect.

Nobody on their deathbed is ever going to say “I wish I checked Facebook / the weather app / the news / Instagram (or whatever else it is that occupies their attention) more frequently”.

I have all the info too. I know the studies. I know that people with stronger, healthier relationships live longer, are happier and tend to have less regrets when they do eventually die. It's not the guy who poured all his heart and soul into coming in 14th instead of 28th in the 2018 Whatcha-ma-call-it 50-miler.

So where does that leave me? Well for starters writing this down has helped me to structure my thoughts and ambitions a bit. I didn't check my phone all morning and instead played a board game and shared some of my (chubby) childhood pictures with my kids. That was a good start I suppose. I'm just a guy circumnavigating the same pitfalls as everybody else.
So many of us including myself are just getting off track by filtering through this perpetual stream of often barely relevant information all the time. It's so often that I notice how reading on a screen makes me really agitated too whereas reading on paper is in fact quite calming. The screen wins mostly on the merits of accessibility I suppose.

I will focus on relationships, not achieving only my own agenda. I will be more present, open, calm and accepting. I will try to practice love and forgiveness towards myself and others. I guess it comes down to trying to be more conscious and present at any given time. Athletic goals can seem hard to achieve but let's face it. Eat, sleep, train and recover well while listening to the signals of your body and Bob's your uncle.

Now this whole wishy-washy personal improvement stuff on the other hand, that's like ninja level tough for real, but you know what? I'll start striving for that a lot more intently. Now if I happen to place in the top 10 in the 2018 Whatcha-ma-call-it 50-miler that would be freaking awesome too, but it's all right if I don't.