I recently read this quote in Born to Run. Ken Chlouber was a Colorado miner and the creator of the Leadville Trail 100, which is an ultramarathon trail that goes through the dirt roads near the heart of the Rocky Mountains. An ultramarathon is 42.195. I enjoy running. I have even done a half marathon. An ultramarathon, though interesting to think about, is not something I could ever see myself doing. But it is not running that draws this to me. It is the idea of pain.
If you’ve never read Born to Run, I highly recommend it. Written by Christopher McDougall, it talks about a unique tribe of Indians called the Tarahumara. It all starts because McDougall was experiencing a tremendous amount of pain in his foot. Pain leads him to uncovering this group and their unbelievable ability to endure.
We all seek to avoid pain at some level. Some numb it with drugs or alcohol or relationships, but there are others who dive right in. They embrace physical pain and ride out the storm to obtain some higher sense of self. McDougall writes, “And the mileage. The sheer stress on their legs was off the charts. Running one hundred miles a week was supposed to be the shot to a stress injury, yet the ultrafreaks were doing one hundred miles in a day.” This amount of running is unfathomable to me. This ability to ignore the bodies needs and demands to put that amount of miles between you and somewhere else…amazing. At this level that’s what it is all about: making friends with your pain.
I am trying to make friends with my pain, not so I can run through the Copper Canyons, but so I can finally feel whole and abundant while watching the pain pass through me. Perhaps if the pain from my past becomes an amicable companion who is just there to remind me of how far I’ve come and how much farther I still have to go, I can have a shot at loving unconditionally. Pain does not have to stop me in my tracks. It does not have to be the red light to get off at the next exit. It can be an asset and ally. My god, think of how life changing that would be.
Trust. Trust. Trust