I knew there was a song titled ‘Running on Empty’ but didn’t know it was by Jackson Browne -an American singer-songwriter and musician who sold over 18 million albums in the USA mainly in the 1970s. It’s actually a great song and well worth a listen. The lyrics Browne wrote about driving his truck to the recording studio on an empty fuel tank match my thoughts of today as I’m feeling pretty destroyed post Marathon des Sables with the ‘ABP Newport Marathon’ (Marathon #1017) on Sunday looming.
‘Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels, looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields’.
It’s not the end of the world and I’m not asking for any sympathy – if you know me very well, you’ll know that’s not my style. I’m just illustrating a phase of running and recovery that we all will experience at one time or another if racing and clocking up marathons and ultras is your thing.
You see for a long time now, I’ve considered running as an investment process. A process of trying to capture as much Kinetic Energy, Confidence and Momentum as possible in training to use on Race-Day itself. It’s a tough call, as it requires a huge amount of concentration and hard work – but being incredibly patient and having myopic tunnel-vision have proved to be a real advantage I’ve found.
‘I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on’.
That covers off Confidence and Momentum but Kinetic Energy, well that’s not so easy to build up again, especially if you’ve just wiped out three months of hard training in a week of sand-dune bashing in Morocco. Post Guillain-Barré Syndrome, I’m fully aware that it now takes me months rather than a few days or weeks to lose the mental and physical fatigue that blights training, festers injuries and produces slower and much worse race experiences and results.
‘Running on empty, running blind, running on, running into the sun’.
It happens to everyone, me included many times over the past 24 years I’ll hasten to add and I’ve always taken time out from running whenever my legs have felt heavy and unresponsive. ‘Unresponsive’ describes the sensation of feeling drunk combined with the moment you get off a treadmill after a long run and the fluid in your ears makes you feel a bit unsteady. That and the worst Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) ever and you’ll start to get the idea hopefully.
‘Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive. Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive’.
Am I worried? Nah… as I know my ‘Love’ for all things running will never leave me and rather than trying hard to regain my ‘Running Mojo’, I know it will return of its own accord. The faster times at Park Runs and Road Marathons, will return. It’s a shame that I can’t run as fast as I once did, but it doesn’t matter nowadays as just being part of the ‘Running Scene’ is enough. Thinking about it, being dry 24 years’ is my most important maintained achievement as is the ability to walk and lead a relatively normal life.
Running PBs is one thing, leading a well-balanced, long and rewarding life is something that many-a-runner never achieves and one well worth searching for IMHO.
‘I don't know when that road turned, into the road I'm on’.
It’s a great line and it’s a very hard moment to try and isolate. But we’re all on a road to somewhere aren’t we? Maybe like the lyrics say not necessarily the same road that you set out on but one that hopefully you are glad you are going down right now, in a direction you are keen on taking and one where you are steering. I mean who wants to be a passenger when there’s ample opportunities so out there to get behind the wheel.
‘Everyone I know, everywhere I go, people need some reason to believe’.
And there’s the ‘Nugget in Today’s Blog’ – Running is all about ‘Belief’. In fact, Lifeis all about ‘Believing’. My word, I BELIEVE – I’ve been there and got the T-Shirt many-a-time over. You see, I know I’ll feel stronger again - soon. My quads won’t feel like they’ve had a madman with a meat mallet on them and my hip-flexors will work on-demand rather than with the slight protest that accompanies any slight hint of exertion.
‘Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels, I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels’.
Now, if that sounds familiar, and you are feeling a bit buggered right now, well is ‘Nature’s Way’ of telling you to take a well-earned ‘Time-Out’. A time to re-energise, re-format and re-capture the enthusiasm and energy needed to re-love the thing that changes your outlook on life and will go on changing your life forever.
Motto - Don’t Run on Empty :-)
1,016 Marathons - 246 Ultras - 15 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records