In an ultrarunning career that has spanned 15 years, I have been honored and humbled to share the trail with some great runners. Additionally, I’ve been fortunate to be at or near the front a few times. I’ll admit it, in my experience, there is nothing quite like the thrill of crossing the finish line first (or close to first J ) in a 100-mile race. That said, just because I don’t see myself doing that again in my running career does that necessarily mean my best running is behind me? Maybe. Maybe not.
In that context, I feel we need to get back to basics; in general, what is it that makes running good? And, specifically, what is a person’s best running? How do you define it? What does it look like? Is it one of those ephemeral things that cannot be defined but you know it when you see it, or feel it?
When people ask me to name my best runs I typically talk about the runs in which I was at or close to the front. I guess that’s just me. However, when I think about it a bit more deeply, what I remember most about those races is not where I was but, rather, how I felt. It just so happened that I was toward the front but in reality that didn’t really matter nor was it something that I really even noticed. In fact, in the case of the absolute single best run I have ever had, I remember the last three hours like some folks remember where they were when they heard Kennedy had been killed or exactly what they were doing on the horrific morning of September 11, 2001. It was one of those life-defining moments where everything else simply slips away.
When I look back on Western States 2005, it still feels like a dream in which I was floating outside my body and the running was simply happening to me. It was amazing, euphoric even. And it is perhaps experiences like that which makes a run feel “best” and, if that is indeed the case, then the commenters in last week’s column were spot on. Because regardless of my experience or anyone else’s, I have to believe that there is a still a “best” run waiting around the next bend in the trail. After all, we are all, inevitably going to get slower, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep getting better.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
- What have been your best runs?
- When have you done your best running?