During this adventure I discovered something very exciting about running which completely changed the way I look at it. I discovered that it’s not all about the legs or the feet, but that there are other aspects that can aid you in almost a magical way.
One evening in the spring of 2013 I was skyping with my good friend Kristoffer, when we slided onto the subject of endurance and at one point he asked me, “What’s the furthest that you have ever run?”.
I had to the furthest run a distance of 30 kilometres, and to break that we decided that tomorrow, we are going to run 31 kilometres. After we’d hung up I thought, “damned, that is going to be tough”.
My doubts had settled the next day and I was up early, frying pancakes to bring with on the run. The weather was sunny but not to warm. We packed and divided in our backpacks, nuts, pancakes and 3 litres of water. Before leaving I filled up my stomach with oatmeal, sour-milk, bread, half a sausage and some tea.
We set off around noon and navigated ourselves eastward out of Lund. The running was easy and the golden rape fields gave us a spectacular background for our odyssey. We swung our legs left and away from the highway onto a smaller tarmac road that meandered through the landscape. High spirits drove us forward as we with guesswork navigated to Skrylle (forest east of Lund). When we got there we took a break, jamming down some pancakes and drinking plenty of water.
Before leaving Lund we had made up a route and estimated that it would be just over 38 kilometres. A little more then planned but not enough to discourage either one of us. At this point we estimated that we had run 14 kilometres and were now about to take on the 10 kilometre trail throughout the Skrylle forest.
The trail which our feet trod upon were smooth, rocky and often moist. Sometimes our path took shape of a wider gravel road but for the most part we ran on narrow single-track trails. The later part of the trail turned out to be quite hilly and challenging for the lungs. We came out of the forest and arrived back at the recreational centre which was filled with school-kids having a field trip. We took a 15 minute break, filling our stomachs and emptying our bladders.
With 24 kilometres behind us and 14 to go we took of for the end show. But I wasn’t tired. It felt strange since I was struggling with finishing a half marathon just the other day. But there I was, running alongside my friend and everything just worked. We kept a steady pace and our routines for food and water had been solid. I remember I was pondering this and I think it struck me then. I was still running because Kristoffer was still running besides me.
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a walk in the park, but I had imagined it to be harder. At one point Kristoffer felt his knee a bit and we slowed down and did some walking. When it felt better again we returned to our jogging pace. Then there were micro pauses of goofing around, taking pictures, which probably helped a lot.
Entering Lund we were still struggling with both our legs and the mental game because there was still one or two kilometres left to go. But the last kilometre we ran quite fast, pushing away the pain and fatigue. Arriving back at down-town Lund after 4 hours and 56 minutes.
Maybe you’ve guessed it. But what I discovered that day was to which extent the mental game played a role. More specific it was a social factor. We were strong as a unit and helped each other along the way. Both directly with verbal motivation but more to it indirectly. I didn’t want to fail him, and I didn’t want him to fail. That made me stronger.
You would think that there is a linear equation for running controlled by our bodies physical performance capacity, determining how far we can run. But with running I claim that there is this big X-factor which is the brain, not only being able to produce a plenitude of hormones into your bloodstream, but also determining spirit and very much influenced by surrounding factors.
This was me pushing the limits. Next time I’ll push it some more.