I’m often asked questions about what it is really like to run this journey. What do I think about all day, what keeps me going, how does it make me feel? As I’m feeling a bit more ‘with it’ now I’ve had a good night’s sleep let me try to start answering these more interesting questions.
What do I think about as I run? Well it depends. Often it’s just a focus on the road and actuality of the moment. For the second half of the day it overwhelmingly becomes the distance to the next Km marker or the voice on Strava telling me another mile is in the bag. When the traffic is heavy or if there is no Tarmac shoulder then it becomes an acute awareness of what is (or might be) coming up behind me, as those road trains take no prisoners if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those of you who run or ride know what I’m talking about; the laser focus on each step of the last few Kms of that long run, or the traffic as you ride along some busy main road. In some ways it is pure, as I live only in the moment and neither think of the past or much beyond the next few seconds or minutes. It is not always fun, but it is just how it is.
The other times when running are when I feel fresh, the traffic is light, and/or when I have my own Tarmac shoulder. Those are the times when my mind wanders and it can be a wonderful or a demoralizing time. Sometimes I can focus on the positive and the glorious points of the situation I am in; the wild nothingness around me, a cloudless blue sky or the friendliness of the stranger who jus stopped their van to say hello. Sometimes it is just the realization that against the odds I am in AUSTRALIA! I’ve had times when I’ve laughed out loud, or danced to a song while resting at the roadside for no other reason that I felt free and happy. Those are the moments which make help make the journey, and life, special.
At other times an opposite force darkens my mind; the physical pain I might be in, or memories of bad times I have had in my life (as all of us have had). Sometimes just the thought of how damn FAR is still to go, that day, to the next town, or in total to Sydney. It can be hard when the rain comes down, my legs feel like lead and the headwind continues to blow for the 10th straight day as though some divine power is conspiring against me. If I am not careful the depression can spiral downwards, but I have hugely improved my mental control and can now generally force myself to ‘snap out of it’ and focus back on the positives and the possibilities in a way I never used to be able to do. Yes it can be hard to run this far and this fast, but for me at least I know it is worth it as I create a better ‘me’.
The final times are when I’m resting, whether in a tent, bed or in a bar. In those times I feel content and happy, and my thoughts are like they always are no matter how hard the day was. Perhaps I’m learning to compartmentalise better, or that I’ve learned that all hard times have not come to stay but have come to pass. Sometimes I smile and watch the sunset, secure in the knowledge that no matter what tomorrow brings I am on a path which I alone have chosen, right or wrong it may be. It is a moment of peace which comes only from knowing that at least in some small way my fate is my own.