Why do we do it? I know this is a question that a lot of runners ask from time to time but the more important question for me is: Why do we like it?
Today, my wife Helen and I ran the gruelling Stainland Trail which is in the hills around the Yorkshire town of Halifax. It is extremely hilly and today it was exceptionally treacherous with deep mud through woodland paths, interspersed with rocks which were as slippery as ice (on account of the mud). Some of the woodland paths were so steep, the only option was to stride rather than jog up, pushing down on your knees with your hands to compensate for tired legs. The only respite were steep downhill stretches of Tarmac roads, which meant that the only thing for it was to “freewheel” which given the wet slippery road was to take your life into your hands!
The thing is though, we knew exactly what it was going to be like. Last year I considered it as probably the toughest race I had done and said to Helen how fortunate we were that conditions were dry. This year, it was very much not dry and yet we still came back for more and would still do it again next year. If you have been reading my blog for sometime, you will recall we did the Chevin Chase last Boxing Day which due to the local flooding, was closer to swimming rather than running. Yet, we want to do it again!
The reason that this question is difficult, is the same reason that George Mallory gave the rather meaningless answer “because it’s there” when asked why he climbed Mount Everest. What I think he meant and this is the same reason why runners do hard runs, is “because I can”. You get an immense feeling of satisfaction by doing something that not only challenges yourself, but gives you the feeling of being able to do something exceptional, something only available to the few who have what it takes. This might sound self-satisfying and in one way it is, but doing this sort of thing does provide encouragement, motivation and inspiration to others and that has to be worthwhile.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIVUK