Sustainable Outdoor Activities
In 2012 I popped the A2 tendon in my ring finger badly enough to put me out of climbing for a year. I was climbing beyond the limit of what my tendons were ready for because I wanted to send my project.
Being the type of person that's in love with activity and would go nuts (or become an alcoholic) without activity I transitioned as quickly as I could to an alternative. Running. I thought it was a sustainable activity until again, my ego took-a-hold. I mean look at that ego just shining through below. It was 2013 and was the last time I ran.
Being skinny and somewhat familiar with running in my previous city life days, running came easy for me. I increased my endurance quickly by running on the winding trails within the San Juan National Forest near Durango. With music pumping me forward, I chased the flow state adventure goers yearn for as I strode up and down the hills.
Striking the trail with barely the entire ball of my foot, I could push my body forward floating over the ground never fully striking.
It felt like a mountain version of Mario Cart. Just me and my dog Maybel flying through thick pine forests leaping over rocks and streams.
I signed up for my first organized mountain race. The Kendall Mountain Run is 12 miles long, starts on Main St. in Silverton Colorado at 9,300ft runs up an old mining road to the top of Kendall Mtn at 13,400ft and then back down to town where I would stop running for years to come. I held true to my typical regiment of drinking wine the night before with friends and getting high immediately before running.
I placed 7th overall (results) and broke my body doing so.
I think mostly my ego decided for me after the turn around point, when leaping down a scree field from the summit at full throttle, that I was going to give this more than was physically sustainable for me.
On the way down as I'm throwing my legs forward with my hips because I didn't have the muscle capacity to move them a few things were evident. Wearing minimalist shoes on a rocky road was a bad idea and I probably wouldn't be a runner after this. But, my mind was set to give this everything I could mentally bare. After crossing the finish line and collapsing yards away the guy who finished behind me came over to let me know...
"I thought you were going to crash the entire downhill portion, you looked out of control but you somehow kept your shit together. "
When I crossed that finish line I could barely stand up, my right knee pretty much gave out and we immediately went to the rum bar.
During the descent it was a beautiful example of mind over body, my body had told me no miles and miles ago. My ego wanted to beat that guy behind me and I suppose my curiosity wanted to see just how hard I could push this.
I miss running. But learning what your body is capable of is a truly enlightening experience. Everyone should attempt challenging their boundaries often, but in a safe environment and in a more sustainable way then my running story.
I truly believe activity is the elixir to a long full life and I want to be active until I turn to dirt. Now when I assess an activity I use the mantra of
Can I do this and continue to crush well into my 60's or 70's? If the answer is no I re-assess. Or go for it, occasionally.
- Bryant AuCoin