41 miles

Under a gorgeous pink sunset (similar to the one in this 2006 photo), I completed the longest week of running in my life: 41 miles.

Thurs: 11 miles
Sat: 18 miles
Tues: 6.6 miles
Wed: 5.7 miles
Total: 41.3 miles.

I wish I could find the photos my sister and I took of ourselves running through the French countryside in January of 1996, just to reminisce a bit on how long I’ve been at this. If someone had told me then that I would one day run 41 miles in a week and feel great about it, I would have laughed. Now I can’t wait for the marathon. I can’t wait to try running 30 miles or 40 or more in a single day. Sounds crazy, but then so do most things I do to at least some people.

Even more, I like to tell the story of how, when I was 17, I went to the doctor for a physical and when he looked at my feet he remarked, “oh, you’ll never be a runner.” I have almost-flat feet. This happened to be after I had been running with my sister for two years. From what I’ve read over the years, a lot of the old ideas about running simply aren’t true anymore: running form such as Chi Running vastly lowers the impact, and advancements in shoes have done the rest. Sure, you can still hurt yourself, and many will, but if you do it right, a regular running routine shouldn’t be out of reach.


Running long distances, 18 miles being my farthest so far, is very much a meditative endeavor. Just as in a long solitary meditation, one is bombarded with excuses to quit: pain here, pain there, pain everywhere, tiredness, distraction, boredom. Two and a half hours worth of this. Actually, the first hour or so is okay – and then you realize that you’re not even half way done. More boredom, excitement, pains and discomforts, pretty scenery, etc. And then, every once in a while the mind will just settle into the body as the body settles into the posture. Pains disappear, distractions fade, and a beautiful sense of flow emerges. As I told my fellow runners in China, it’s as if I simply sit down in the run.

I sit, and momentum takes over.

What a wonderful way to travel.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03063892070962221788 Julie

    Ah…I so agree with you. I used to think that running more than 20 minutes was wasteful of my time…Now, I look forward to my longer runs, knowing that I am able to connect with myself in a way that no one else can, knowing that while I run, no one understands me more than myself. I push myself a bit too hard, but I know that I can take it. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?I quickly find my rhythm in the pavement and know that I will complete my goal…Half marathon next month, full in January.I'm ready, and you will be to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16283012200310967530 Stark Raving Zen

    What an accomplishment to be proud of. I'd love to call myself a runner some day…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14246929532585980356 Buddhist_philosopher

    Julie – I'm so glad to be running with you in Whitefish next month. The course looks REALLY tough (I'll blog about the difference between it and Pocatello), but it should be fun; plus all the trail running in the early fall will surely be gorgeous. Miss Zen; thank you, thank you. Look up Chi Running some time and give it a try (best when done with a friend who can watch you). You'll be calling yourself a runner in no time.