I really shouldn’t be a runner, much less a trail runner. I’ve always had knee pain and coming off knee surgery in 2006 I didn’t even bother to do any rehabilitation. I just began eating more and walking even less. My ankles turn and roll even when I’m walking across flat surfaces and I’ve even been told I’m a mouth breather (which when you let that roll out of your mouth sounds really bad even) so my lungs are not able to get all the oxygen they’re supposed to or something like that. I’ve been told equally my stride is too long, too short and that my hips don’t fire when I run so my glutes have to work harder. So really I shouldn’t even be running. In fact I think I’ll go sit in my easy chair and embrace all my brokenness. Or I can do something even more odd than anything else I have done so far in my life. I could acknowledge my brokenness as a runner and run anyway. By now you probably know which choice I am going to make. I choose to acknowledge my brokenness and then find ways to overcome it. See this is the way I was built and the circumstances I have brought about through my own choices in life. I chose to not tell anybody in high school when my knees were killing me because I knew that I would never play in a game if I acknowledged I was hurting. That was my choice. I chose to overcome the ankle rolls and sprains that seemed to happen all the time because if I acknowledged that it hurt to put weight on my ankle then as one of the least athletic people I knew I would never play in the game. So I learned to play with pain and learned to find ways to overcome the things that should have kept me off the field. And in running I do the same things. I have studied running and trail running, looked at different techniques and then modified what they were doing so it fit with how I can do the same things. I know that because of my caution in running downhill so as not to twist my ankle I will never finish in the top 10 of a 50 miler but I know I will finish and live to battle the trails another day.
There are a couple of quotes from Roy Hession’s book “The Calvary Road” that I find really right for this topic and absolutely required if we are going to put the past in the past. “Our brokenness and openness must be two-way, horizontal as well as vertical, with one another as with God.” So many people are living lives of brokenness, whether it be because of things they said, things they didn’t say, things they did, things they didn’t do and every spectrum in between. When life doesn’t work out like we wanted it to, we become broken and in this brokenness instead of seeing the opportunity to overcome and use the brokenness for good we allow the brokenness to take us into spirals of habits that don’t allow us to truly live an ultra life, a full life. With that we break relationships with those closest to us but also the one relationship we can’t break, our relationship with our Creator. What Mr. Hession is saying in the above quote is that we must combine our brokenness with openness and that with these two combine it with a horizontal outreach – our interaction with others, and a vertical outreach – our interactions with our Savior God. In another section of the same book Mr. Hession writes “brokenness in daily experience is simply the response of humility to the conviction of God.” How you choose to discuss brokenness will definitely decide how you move on in life. If you choose to carry the stone of brokenness around with you as something holding you back, a weight that is considerable, you will not be able to fully embrace an ultra life. You will always have limits on what you are able to do, who you are able to become and you will constantly fight battles that maybe you’re not supposed to be fighting.
Living an ultra life is going to require running with some brokenness but not allowing that brokenness to keep you in your easy chair. There is going to be some pain involved but that pain is going to make you stronger as you realize that your brokenness is a perfect response of humility and that by responding with openness to your brokenness you will be able to run further and finish better and you will leave a very heavy stone by the side of the trail.