It's been a few months since I wrote a blog post or released a podcast episode. Since my 100 mile race in June, my running has been one long slow taper into going out whenever I feel like it and not training for anything. I realize now the time, energy and focus I put into my race took a lot out of me which when compared to my last post, Questioning Burn Out, seems totally contradictory.
Although I probably could have pushed through and done another fall 100 mile race, I simply did not have the inclination to do so. I was enjoying the feeling of not having to train, of deciding to spend my time doing other things. Ultrarunning became a huge part of my identity since I took it on in 2015. It gave me so much I didn't expect like community and the opportunity to break self-imposed limitations both in the running and in other areas of my life.
I started to question who I was underneath this identify. Would I still have friends and social opportunities if I stopped training? What was I doing it for when my body hurt every time I went out the door? I started running a whole lot less. The recovery period from my June 100 miler basically lasted until the end of November. Having put on winter fat for hibernation, I now find myself at the point where I don't want to simply curl up in my cave and on an unseasonably warm run a week ago, I actually felt the joy of being outside as the sun set. My body didn't hurt one bit. It was just me, the trees, the forest, the creek and the sky at dusk. Yay!
Since then, I've found my mojo to get out there and start building back my leg strength by doing hill training. For the first time in months, I joined some friends on a 20 km trail run this past Saturday. Yes, my body hurt as much as it did after 50k training runs earlier in the year, but it was good to be out. Challenge is necessary when one wants to regain one's fitness. Plus, I would be worse off at upcoming holiday social runs if I didn't spread the suffering out beforehand.
Back to the podcast, as mentioned, it has been months since I released an episode. Back in September, after releasing my last episode, I read a book which should have been the perfect manual for those who choose to take the road less traveled. I had a lot of expectation around it. The title was perfect and a friend loaned it to me. He said it was very important to him during a time in his life when he was taking on indomitable forces. He had things underlined and written in the margins. It was all about following the call to adventure and forging your unique path. I was well into it when another friend mentioned she knew the author and and could introduce us if I wanted to interview him. I was over the moon!
I spent the weekend finishing the book so that I could know it in it's entirety before being introduced to the author. The first part was bang on, but then he said something which totally didn't fit the spirit of what I knew about the road, something formulaic and fear-based which didn't jive at all. All the interest and enthusiasm I had to interview him drained right out of me. The disappointment flooded me as I entered into a no man's land - I was simply not inspired to interview anybody at all.
It's also probably worth mentioning that I have been to more funerals/celebrations of life this year than any other. I'm not saying that the lack of podcasting was a direct result, but it did make me question what really matters and what I want to do. I knew that I didn't simply wanted to fill the already overfilled virtual world with more content and that if I was to interview somebody, I had to really want to do it, not because it made sense mentally, but because I knew I would enjoy it and that it would be meaningful for others too.
In October, I was busy producing a video to honour a philanthropist. After that project ended, I thought I'd try to keep the ball rolling with my production work. I set up a meeting which by all outside measures should have been productive and inspiring. However, much like the experience with the book, I was completely deflated. Hell, truth told, I felt so down I barely got off the couch for a few days. The one good thing that came out of it was that I had an idea of somebody I'd like to interview, somebody I'd talked about during that meeting.
When I got home I reached out to this person and he said, yes! He was so positive, upbeat and kind that it was balm to the wound that opened during the meeting. That interview was scheduled for the end of December. However, it still being October, I wondered about November. Maybe I would interview somebody else before then? But who? No lightning bolts of inspiration struck. That is, not until the end of November.
I was heading out the door for a run, my mind wandering and reflecting on the ever present question about what do to with the podcast. Shutting it down didn't feel right so I simply shrugged my shoulders and continued on. I pressed play on Slade Roberson's Shift Your Spirits, 5 Self-Help Books I don't Hate. Coincidentally, in the introduction of this podcast episode, Slade shared a story about asking for and receiving guidance, getting unanswered questions answered. He talked about how he didn't know if he should take an editing workshop, how he asked for guidance and the resulting signs and circumstances that helped him decide. It was a beautiful and simple story. Despite feeling rather disconnected from guidance, I felt like I was getting some nevertheless. Then he mentioned, that he was available to be interviewed on other people's podcast. BINGO!
When Slade interviewed me earlier this year, I knew I wanted to interview him one day too. He's a really cool guy and besides being a great storyteller, he's the type of person you simply want to sit down with in a café and chat. I knew it would be fun to interview him and that he'd have a lot of great things to share about the road less traveled. So, there was the answer - fun interview and meaningful content - both checked. When I got back from my run, I messaged him and he said, yes.
I completed the interview last week and have been putting it together, but as I wrote the shownotes for part 1 realized that the back story behind it's creation was an open invitation to write a blog post. So, here it is.
I'm not so sure I was feeling burn out as much as asking myself what it is I really want to do, what gives me joy and feels purposeful i.e. what do I do when I take "should" out of the equation? Two new podcast episodes came out of asking those questions. Hope you will enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed creating it.
If you're subscribed to the podcast in iTunes or another app, you'll receive notice as soon as it's published which is hopefully in the next day or two, as long as I don't feel I need to take another impromptu step (like this blog post) before it's release. *wink*
I believe we can rise to our personal and societal challenges by embracing the spirit of adventure and the enduring wisdom of nature.