Man this week I’ve really regretted taking up running again. Why? Well it’s hard that’s why. Snowboarding in powder, I just turn my head, accept some fear and my body turns, and fast, fast enough to create an interesting cocktail of chemicals in my body. Climbing is the same, I was born to climb, and I’ve created routes that are works of art, they feed my need to feel proud of making something that give people pleasure. So here we are today, my thighs are full of lactic porridge, my hip girdle is out of kilter, and my little robust ego seems to be as full of holes as a little spiders web. Why is running so hard? Why is it so deceptively simple, and so damn hard, and why do I like it when clearly I am not suited to it. Yesterday I ran for 3 hours, took in a high col, a tricky ridge, and a summit. I turned around, picked up my buddy at a prearranged spot and did another col, and 4 more hours, flowers galore, a view to die for, and pain, lots of common or garden pain. Some of the pain is directly linked to my ordinariness at running, my aspirations outstrip my ability, I cannot link pride to my work, because my product is only fair. Running makes my mind easier to handle in some ways, but I need to relax about it, stop fretting. It’s what climbers need to do about their climbing.
My body and mind are really are in need of a holiday because of all the climbing I’ve done and really I should be doing Yoga not running, but there you go, life is short. Running is my Yoga.
The man and the slope, or it might be better translated as the man against the slope, the man verses the slope. It’s natural for people who live in the hills to think of the slope as the enemy, it does make your life harder after all. But without the slope there are no mountains, the world is flat, boring in the extreme. Instead of even the sea, you are talking of a placid dirty pond, a reservoir feeding ‘townies’. When you are a climber you learn to love the slope, it perks you up from your flat life of work, drudgery, and getting nowhere in a life, that you never understood was destined to lead nowhere. At the moment I need to understand that the ‘slope’ is not a spicy morsel, a tasty snack, it’s just the first ripple, a wave, one of many, that will just keep coming, inexorably and somehow I have to be fit enough to surf over them. And then after I have learned this lesson I will smilingly return to climbing, and find harmony, perhaps in the Himalayas the place of never ending slopes. Once a long time ago, I had a very long period in the Himalayas, which was built on about a years hill running in the Alps. I ran four of the popular treks, did numerous mountains, and could run at 5000 meters, it was a time when the slope was my friend and not my enemy. I had no money at this time, and thought of myself as a disciple of the late Eric Beard, but I had something ‘Vaster than Empires’, I had love for the mountains and felt that the mountains loved me, and looking back I am positive that this was true. The slope was my friend.
N.B Eric Beard was a British fell runner who did a bit of climbing and held some records for a time. He lived well below the radar, mundane jobs in climbing centres that let him be in his beloved mountains being the general rule. He was killed whilst riding his bike and another little shining star went blip and disappeared.