It has taken me 5 years to return to a special place. A place in the mountains I felt completely drawn to the moment I arrived there during a photoshoot for Inov-8 in 2010. Life somewhat got in the way of going back to Chamonix, Mont-Blanc any earlier. If anything, I kept finding reasons why I could not make the trip. So the years went by.
Do you know that feeling that you would really like to try and do something different in your training? Feeling stuck in a rut of work, training, family and juggling it all? But something holds you back to take some time off for yourself?
Even if you realize that time to yourself doesn´t necessarily involve a lot of costs but your absolute will to expand and taking your training to new heights?
But I know, something else always takes priority over one or more of your deep(est) desires, wishes, ideas and dreams as an ultra runner.
What would happen if you just did it?
Last week, actually whilst cycling along a nice path with my kids, Chamonix and the trails around the Mont-Blanc suddenly popped up in my head. So sudden that I got goosebumps all over. Up to that day the experience of running in such a remote area which had fueled me with incredible amounts of energy back then had never gone.
Boom, it was all there again and I decided to go back. Instantly and without hesitation.
I took inspired action in response to the vision I had of myself running on those rugged trails that so beautifully surround Chamonix and called up a friend who warmly welcomed me at his place a mere four days later.
I ran over twelve hours in 3 days, completely surrendering myself to the mountains. Every step felt so safe, no matter how narrow the trails were, no matter how hot it was and no matter how many people let me pass by. I was flying along lightly on my feet and was happiest during the hours where I did not see a soul. Just hearing the gravel crumble underneath my shoes was like music to my ears, so pure. I felt infused with abundance.
The weekend was a turning point for me. I sensed what is still in it for me as an ultra trail runner. That even though I had not run past and beyond 1,5 hours the past couple of years and had focused more on horse-riding instead, my endurance, core strength and running spirit have not faded at all.
If anything, I´ve returned back on the trails stronger than ever before simply by expanding my training at last.
Developing your skills as an ultra runner and discovering your true virtue is not done in a day. But you´ll be surprised what you can take away for yourself by changing your routine just once in a while by just getting out there and lifting yourself slightly out of the comfort zone.
On day 3 of my mountain running adventure I finally got passed by a French gazelle-like male runner who slowed down and started to talk. We were hiking fast up towards the Nid d´Aigle when he asked me how many kilometres I had set out to run that day. I said that I was heading up to the top and then taking a different route back down to Les Houches.
However long that would take me.
He proudly announced that he was running 33 K and guess what happened: During that second he had given away his last reserves, his power and his last mental energy he would have needed to keep up with me. He was blown. I decided to take the lead, never looked back and never saw him again.
Shame as I was initially happy to have a training buddy for an hour or so. But his competitiveness spoiled it for me.
On any ascend in an ultra, a race is often decided! The mountain can be a real devil that evokes negativity of it being too steep to run up.
Instead, surrendering to its beauty and the gift within you to be capable of winding your way up to the mountain top is what can leave you with an amazingly rewarding sense of achievement and gratitude.
Don´t waste time on the I-have-to-beat-him or her! That game always ends up in a dead-end road. For you!
It´s when you decide to view other runners in a race as your allies to help you have your best day out on the course you can have the race of your life.
That attitude wins mentally over any negative, competitive thoughts of having to beat the shit out of the others runners in the field.
Discovering such like-minded game players in races is key!
When did you last expand your training? What benefits did you get out of the experience? I am super curious to know your story and thoughts.
Please leave your comment below!