In The Pursuit of Greatness

“If you can see yourself doing something, you can do it. If you can’t see yourself doing something, usually you can’t achieve it”.


Thus speaks David Goggins, my fitness hero and constant mental companion to each hard run.

The past year in Austria showcased a host inconsistent running as a result of constant traveling; this current school semester has yielded a tighter schedule than I have ever experienced before. I’ve got quite the laundry list of excuses which might stand in the way of doing something great with running :

 

I’ve got no time.

I’m coming into this year without a strong foundation.

I eat entirely plant-based; what about “”protein””?

The furthest I have ever run is a couple 50k races.

There are no trails to train on here.

There is no hills to train on here.

There are no people to train with here.

I don’t even have the appropriate gear.

 

But none of those things matter.

I am going to run 100 miles on February 23rd through the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas.

20,000 feet of climbing. This will probably take me 25-30 hours.

And yes, this is a nonstop sort of situation featuring sleep deprivation, bowel movements, eating on the run, and a score of broken toenails from jamming feet into rocks and roots that layer the trail. 

I have no idea what I’m going to find rattling around in the recesses of my mind and soul after running for so long.

When I say that I am going to “run” 100 miles, I should probably adjust that to say I am going to “go” 100 miles. With trail ultras, you PACE. There are strategies, techniques, methods.

This, for me, includes power-hiking up hills, striding down hills for free speed (but not in a manner which might blow out the thighs and obliques), and easy SLOW running on the flat sections.

I’m not a fast runner. I’m not “genetically blessed”.

The only thing that qualifies me to do this is the fact that I can really see myself doing it. Going 100 miles. Going 100 miles.

This literal vision is what wakes me up at 5 each morning to go for a run before classes. It’s what ties my shoes for back-to-back long runs on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s what makes me daydream while mopping the floor at Nature’s Paradise different local trails on which to do long runs.

All I want to do is talk about running; form, nutrition, racing, pacing, shoes, other gear, weather conditions.

Half of my own mind sometimes cries, “could we think about something else, for the love of God?! We’ve got other passions here!to which the other half of my mind sticks out it’s tongue and flaps a raspberry and continues to think running-thoughts nonetheless.

It doesn’t matter that I’m not the fastest runner. It doesn’t matter that I’m not ultraman Dean Karnazes or Scott Jurek or Kaci Lickteig or Ann Trason or anyone of notable ultrarunning significance with massive ability in endurance and speed.

When my trail shoes are laced up and picking their way up Mt. Ida on February 23rd, it’s going to be the vision that runs alongside me, not any notion of significance.

My training is relatively simple at the breakdown: get to the point (through the 10% rule, a cycle rotation of high/low mileage weeks, strength training) where I can run as many miles per week as possible. Sign up for as many lower-distanced ultras (50K races mainly) as I can afford to serve as supported long runs (so two, I can afford two of them).

At all times, fill the cookie jar.

It’s going to take showing up each morning to put in the miles. It’s going to take reinforcing the vision. It’s going to take filling up my mental and emotional cookie jar with as many moments of “JOSIE IS A BADASS” as possible, whether those moments spawn from something great or something horrendous through which I exercised resilience.

I have no idea what going 100 miles is going to feel like. What I do know is that there are going to be moments of extreme mental low;  distract yourself as much as you want with music, podcasts, audiobooks…but it comes down to the fact that it’s you and your mind for a little over a day.

When it comes to that, I will rely on those early-morning miles, slogging through the damp darkness away from my cozy body-heated bed. I will rely so hard on the vision of why I am doing this when I could be not doing this.

I am going to reach into that cookie jar and I am going to pull out a slip of paper that reminds me that even small young insignificant Josie can be great, too.

I didn’t want to publish this blog post.

What if I comes to February 25th and it turns out I wasn’t able to run the race? I DNF-ed? I failed? How viciously embarrassing it would be to post such a display of confidence–nay, arrogance!–and have the expectations of dear readers on my shoulders alongside my own?

I reach into my cookie jar.

I pull out a slip of paper with a quote from Rich Roll’s book, Finding Ultra.

“Pursue what’s in your heart, and the universe will conspire to support you”.

Endurance running is in my heart, dear reader. For this season of my life I am going to avidly and voraciously pursue it with every tool that I have in my arsenal.

Whatever drives you; whatever lights you on fire and makes you long to wake up in the morning; whatever fills you with thoughts of curiosity and improvement. Hobbies, relationships, life goals… please, I beg you, for your own sake pursue it with whatever you have.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie


“If you can see yourself doing something, you can do it. If you can’t see yourself doing something, usually you can’t achieve it”.

 

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About Josie

I run slowly through forests, eat spoonfuls of Jif's Natural creamy peanut butter, and perpetually wear a fuzzy Patagonia sweater I found for $1.50 at a charity shop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I deal in trees, breeze, and threes. I'm not interested in being normal. I'm not looking to pass GO. I'm not looking for anything other than breathable freedom.