“I am often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I am running? I don’t have a clue.” Haruki Murakami (author e.g. What I talk about when I talk about running and Norwegian Wood)
I haven’t read the book. I have run 65 miles from London to Brighton, I have been through my own divorce. I deal with other people’s personal situations on a daily basis.
I do not attempt to exactly liken and compare the very long distance run and a divorce but there are strikingly similar themes flowing through both.
Of course, differences abound. An Ultra is a choice to embark upon a challenge. A divorce is a force of reality. The obvious is pain and discomfort, both of a physical nature but one of emotion too. It is a rollercoaster. The start is one of tension, fear, natural excitement and a sudden realisation that this cannot be a race but a long journey. The beginning is a wish to get on, to progress. The influence of others, to map or mirror their travel rate and experience. Then, the appreciation that you have to go at your own pace. To otherwise is to risk exhaustion. It is just you, getting on with it. Egocentric, I know.
So at mile 46 at the major fuel stop, I was sitting on a plastic chair in a tent in a field on my own. There are crowds. Spontaneous sobbing, not caused by pain but a tumult of hormones and emotions. After each vital stop the first step is a painful reminder and so slow – take it, do it, just another until it becomes easier.
Lifting one’s head from the floor to look around. Another mile down. It is about self-doubt and tenacity. It is about calling upon a friend or family. It is taking the time and making the time to rejuvenate. It takes time. It is not a race but an endurance. It is self-belief, knowing you shall get to where you want despite or in spite of all. It is drawing upon what is required to get you there. The end result is not absolute, yet it is definite and a relief. It is self-awareness and the journey itself that become the achievement, not the badge or medal. That is what you tell yourself, and anyone else whom cares.
However, there the simile ends. Ultimately, a divorce is that you are not alone although in black and white that appears to be a contradiction. And it is not just about the individual. Compromises are required, the whole needs to be considered. The children, if any, sense security. Assistance from all is required and should be sought, be that from friends, family and, maybe, legal advice.