• Tom Crossland

Day 53 - Comparison: the thief of joy

Eglwys Fach - LLanrhystud 43.6 km (1722.1km done)

Start Time - 8.16 am

Finish Time - 4.11 pm

Moving time - 6 hours 34 mins

Vertical Gain - 1280 m

Garmin Temperatures a

Average - 26 C

Min - 20 C

Max - 31 C

Support runners today

After the straightforward day yesterday, I was feeling good I was keen to get going today. This did not last long and within the first 30 minutes after the first climb of the day I was lacking motivation and feeling pretty tired. My legs were well recovered and I was moving well, keeping on schedule. I just could not shift the low motivation all day. I have spent most of the day trying to figure out what was going on. I was eating and drinking well, the weather was much cooler with a strong breeze all day. The scenery, once again, did not disappoint. I think I slept well last night, no worse than any other night.

The only thing that changed, as far as I can tell, is that I read some posts from another runner who is running the coast of Britain and is 3000 miles into their run in 95 days. For some reason the thoughts that they are doing a better run than me and they would be doing better than I was at that point kept coming into my head. Now I am fully aware that comparison is the thief of joy and have written about how unhelpful comparison is, but this knowledge did not help me today. I know internally that someone else doing an epic challenge does not diminish mine and that I am all for everyone seeking their thing and going after it. It seems that there are days when this is hard for everyone, and we look at what other people are doing and get caught up in comparison. I think I am lucky on this run that if I have a day like today I can't just stop on the trail. Whatever is happening in my mind and with my emotions just sitting down is not an option really, I have to keep going, otherwise I'd have a long wait.

What I try to do is to remain mindful and aware of my thoughts and how they are impacting on feelings. Nothing objectively had changed today compared to yesterday, all that had changed was my interpretation of what was going on. With this knowledge and knowing that thoughts are just thoughts and feelings are just feelings, they come and go without effort or intention, I try to reduce the impact they have on my behaviour. For example, I do not sit down and sulk, as I would have like to have done at times today. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and I chip away at the miles, I run when I can and walk when I have to. I focus on getting to the next van stop and then heading back out onto the trail.

Full disclosure, this was going well until the last section. The terrain was tough (or I just had tired legs) and I may have had a less than zen hour (a few four letter words may have been said), as I could not move as quickly as I had hoped. I was very aware that this was not helpful since it did not change anything about the world, it did not make the trail more runnable. It only perpetuated how I felt, but I couldn't help it I knew that if I just kept going, I'd eventually got to the end of the day. I then took myself off and waded in to the sea and just stood for a few minutes to try and reflect on the day, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow is another day and I will feel different and have different thoughts. Back in the van Steve asked me about the positives for today and as I have mentioned before gratitude and thinking of the positives is important at the end of the day. Even on bad day, when the trail is against you, there are always things to be grateful for.

So here goes mine from today...

  1. The views coming into and out of Aberystwyth were stunning.

  2. There were some wonderful trails today.

  3. I got back to coast after going inland to cross the Dyfi

  4. Gemma Light came to cheer me on in Aberystwyth.

  5. The sea was beautiful and helped me centre again at the end of the day.

Now I sit here writing this I am feeling much more sanguine about today. It was mentally tough but I got it done and will continue tomorrow on with this run. I am relaxing in a lovely B and B, having had some food and drink and am now about to get ready for bed. Writing this tonight has been very helpful, consolidating my reflections and the learning from the trails today. I am eager to see what tomorrow brings.

"Everyday is a new opportunity to begin again. Everyday is your birthday" - Dalai Lama

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