Asking myself lots of tough questions at the end of the Massanutten Hoo-Ha XXC mountain bike race…

This past Tuesday I knocked out my second biggest run this season, and the first run of 2013, in the Shenandoah National Park. We covered 23.76 miles, we round to 24 in a case like this, over snowy and icy trails.

As usual my friends and family before and after the run had the usual comments such as “what are you running from, why would you do that, how do you do that, and was someone chasing you”. If you are an athlete you have more than likely been asked the same types of questions.

During Tuesday’s run I had a good amount of time to think about this. Specifically on a climb from Jones Falls that I am pretty sure I left a little bit of my soul on. I realized that while yes you have to physically be able to do these activities, I would argue that 60+ percent of it is mental.

If you are one of my friends reading this, you are most likely laughing right now. For those that don’t know me well, I have had more than one blow up, bonk, and existential crisis during runs, bike rides, etc. So many in fact that friends look for signs of the “Chase Face” which signals an oncoming hissy fit.

My low spots don’t represent a dislike of running or biking, etc but rather a less than superb mental strength. In Chris McDougall’s book Born To Run the theme of becoming friends with pain is present throughout. Not injury pain, etc but rather a realization and acceptance that running is sometimes hard and that you will have low points. But rather than fight those low points with curses, and maybe in my case just once crying, accept the pain and become friends with it. Remember previous low points and know that you have been there before and it will pass. After all we run, bike, swim, climb, and more because we love it and loving something means loving everything that comes with it.

In a roundabout way this is also my way of calling out my New Year’s resolution. To continue to be physically fit, but also to work on my mental strength. I think that this will not only help me become a better runner but also a better person. I can’t guarantee that I won’t have a slip up, but hopefully my curses turn from anger to praise such as “I love this climb you tough son of a gun mountain” and so forth.

If you want to test your mental and physical strength I encourage you to check out The Wild Oak Trail Run and the Eastern Divide Ultra 50k. Both cover beautiful trail in the state of Virginia, and will surely put you to the test. I will be at The Wild Oak run testing my physical and mental fitness so I hope to see you there!