Savor Every Mile

Geoff Roes talks of how illness has made him want to savor every mile of his running.

By on August 29, 2012 | Comments

I’ve discovered more than ever in the past few weeks just how much I enjoy getting out for a run each day. As is often the case, it has taken not being able to do something that’s made me appreciate that thing so much more. I’ve hardly run since August 11th. I’ve been dealing with a condition/illness that my doctor and I haven’t been able to yet diagnose. Through most of this time I could go out for a run, but it’s clear by the way my body is responding to running that it’s not good for me right now. I have no desire to go into the physical/medical details, as there are currently a lot more questions than answers, but what I do want to talk about is the effect that this experience has had on my thoughts about running.

I’ve known for a long time that running makes me really happy. If I get sick or injured and I can’t run for a period of time I’m generally aware of a desire to get healthy so I can start running again. In these temporary cases though, it usually seems to be focused more on the specifics of my running at that time. If I have a race in my near future I get wrapped up in trying to figure out how to best manage my body through the injury or illness to still be able to do that race, and hopefully do it well. It’s always a bummer to be physically unable to run for any period of time, but usually I find it pretty easy to just enjoy the extra free time, and prepare myself as best I can physically and mentally for my return to health, and to running.

This time though, my mindset is very different. For the first time in my life I have something going on in which the larger question isn’t, “when will I be healthy enough to start running again,” but rather, “will I ever be healthy enough to run again?” Not to be too dramatic or alarmist here, and chances are I’ll get this figured out and be “up and running” in short time, but it’s also possible that my body is dealing with something that will keep me from being able to ever run again, at least in the way, and to the degree that I’ve run for the past 6 years.

This situation has caused me to see things very differently. I haven’t once found myself thinking about wanting to get healthy to be able to run certain events or races in the future. I’ve stripped things back so much further than that, and discovered a much more pure affinity for running. As I’ve had to confront the potential for such a large change in my relationship with running I haven’t once felt sad about the possibility of never being able to race again. Instead, I’ve been feeling sadness about all the places that I might not ever get a chance to take myself on my own two feet. There’s something pure and satisfying about being able to just lace up a pair of shoes and head out wherever one pleases. I’ve been healthy enough until now that I’ve never had to question my ability to simply go out for a run ever again. I’ve almost constantly had questions about whether I can run as strong and as fast as I might want to, but never whether or not I can simply go out at all. It’s such a larger challenge to confront, but one that has been very clarifying and confirming. I know I will never again have any confusion or doubts as to why I run and what I get out of running. With so many uncertainties right now, one thing I know for certain is that I will never again take one mile for granted. It really is a special thing, and if there’s been one silver lining in these past few weeks, it has been coming to have even more appreciation for all the incredible runs I’ve gotten to do in the past, and more excitement than ever before for all the ones I hope to do in the future.

Geoff Roes
Geoff Roes has set numerous ultramarathon course records including the Western States and Wasatch 100 milers. Salomon, Clif, Drymax, Ryders Eyewear, and Atlas Snowshoes all support Geoff's running. You can read more about his running on his blog Fumbling Towards Endurance and join him at his Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camps.