I made the recent acquaintance of Chris Russell when he interviewed me about my book. He’s a great guy, and the host of a weekly podcast at runrunlive.com. Each podcast is informative, quirky, musical, and a lot of fun.
In a recent podcast, the one that includes my interview, he talks about going to the “dark place” – somewhere many of us have to go at some point in our training in order to perform with the best.
“To know the dark place,” he says, “is to know weeks of cold and dark and ceaseless, mindless and mostly joyless work. The only way through the dark place is to keep moving forward or to jump out of the boat. There is indeed a loss of self to this quest. Where just about everything else is put on hold and you commit monk-like to the work.”
Last weekend I set out on a 12-mile run, only to give in after just eight. Perhaps it was the hilly course I chose or the lack of sleep the night before. Whatever. But though stopping after eight miles was fine with me now, it was unacceptable years ago when I went to the dark place in which my running was geared primarily to training for races. I remember a particular weeknight when I just had to get in a 14-mile run after dinner in the 7-degree cold since I was not going to have the chance on the weekend.
As Chris Russell says, “When I first started running I thought I was dedicated with my 15-20 mile weeks and occasional long runs, but I did not know success until I found my line, deep within the dark place. Everyone draws their own line. It is a choice. And it is a choice only you can make.”
Sure, I still look ahead to performing well in races, but now my runs are more for the pure joy of running than for the goal of subtracting two more seconds from my half-marathon time. I finally drew the line, and knew which side of that line to be on.
To listen to Chris’s podcast which includes my interview, you can click here, then click on the POD icon. (note: a poor phone line makes me sound like I have a lisp. Just sayin’). Happy running.