A week ago I ran 60km in one go, with a great man. I was definitely physically underprepared, but I learned that I had unknowingly been mentally preparing for something like this my whole life.
The run was for Many Miles For Mary, a yearly run that is done by Jamie Milne. Jamie is a friend of mine that has done many extraordinary feats of endurance over the years in memoriam of his Grandmother Mary. For 2016, Jamie is running from my office in Albert Park, Vic, to his gym, Jamie Milne Training, on the Sunshine Coast, QLD, that’s 80km a day, every day for about 18 days… And yes, that is insane.
Jamie is an absolute superstar of a human. It was one of the great pleasures of the experience to just spend a bit of time talking about all things life. Obviously we had many hours to just chew the fat while pounding the pavement… Jamie’s running involves considerably less pounding than mine, as I lumbered my way through the first 40kms into a headwind, Jamie’s indefatigable steps just chewed up the kilometres.
I learned that you can just run through cramping. I know this because I started cramping about 16kms in. Yep, with 44kms to go, my legs decided to betray me.
Cramps will move around your legs though, you can’t run right through them, but you can walk them out until you get to a point where you can run again. It goes something like, run – cramp – run – cramp – stop running – tin man walk with stiff cramped legs– transition into chafe walk (kind of like a waddle) – transition into regular walking – run again –repeat.
I learned that you can run for miles out of Melbourne on one road (Brunswick St. if you’re wondering just keeps going forever apparently).
I didn’t train for this properly. When I committed to running the 60kms, I thought I would get my training done alright. With plenty of lifetime miles in the legs, I figured training for an Ultramarathon would be like any other kind of training. Except this time, I didn’t do it. Work was busy, I was travelling a lot and I went through a period of illness with express instructions from the doctor to do nothing…. I of course, did something, which prolonged my illness, because I am both stubborn and busy.
Jamie had an interrupted prep too. Originally slated to only run 60kms a day, Jamie ended up committing to an unprecedented 80kms a day in order to cover more distance in a shorter period of time. Even with his experience in running long distances and world record attempts, Jamie runs a business as well, and has never even attempted this distance in total, or each day!
We talked about the way you are shaped in your early life, how the people around you shape your views of the world, and the ways in which we have both come to have similar views on many things. In the words of Jamie’s grandmother Mary, “Be Nice, but don’t take any shit”, a lesson he learnt early on, and one I picked up along the way too.
Neither of us have flawless upbringings, but not many people do. Good decisions, bad decisions, tough times, good times, it all shapes the men we aspire to be each day. There is no settling, Jamie’s sights were set on the next challenge 30kms into this one. Finding your gift and making the most of that for the benefit of others, it’s what drives Jamie, and keeps him constantly improving and refining his message.
We both struggle with meditation. Two busy minds, with a lot going on, we seek distraction rather than silence. We both find it hard to just stop and enjoy silence, or to seek a still and quiet mind. Rather we both seek distraction.
Jamie runs, not fast, but he runs. Running is something to do, to take his mind off the myriad of other things that go running through his mind every day. I too, am constantly seeking distraction rather than silence. From exercise, to daydreaming about having super-powers until I fall asleep at night. Cut from the same cloth in that regard, we chatted our way through the miles. Singing songs, making jokes and eating slice made by the mother of one of the support crew, which 20kms in, tasted like the best thing I’ve ever had.
I learned more about the head game. It’s a big thing for some people. When will your brain tell you to stop? When it hurts? When you are tired? When you get to the end? When you get close to the end? Will your head just hold up the whole time while your body gives up on you?
Your body is a funny thing. The same reflex that tells your bladder to relax about 10m from the toilet can kick in and tell you that you are exhausted when you are near the finish line. You can see the end, and all of a sudden, your body just starts to ache.
To run 80km a day, Jamie has to have outrageous mental fortitude. Driven by something bigger than himself, driven by the memory of his grandmother and the lives that he can impact by actually pushing himself to do something more than he’d ever done before.
We can’t forget though, that mental strength is tied to, in part, physical endurance. For many years the only time I shed any tears were after football games, when I was physically depleted. Physical exhaustion can weaken your defences and let in the doubt, pain and emotion of things long since suppressed. Jamie will deal with these on a daily basis, and so far has beaten them all away. Getting up each morning to kick on with the goal.
A week later, (I only ran one day), and my body is feeling better now. Some residual soreness from being a big lump of a potato, and some strain on my foot which is annoying, but otherwise, I am feeling pretty good. Jamie has run every day since, racking up 20 marathons in 10 days. I couldn’t walk on my feet after one day, and Jamie outran me by 20kms before backing it up the next day, and the 8 days after that.
I learned that from the waist up, I could run a long way. I never doubted that I would finish the 60km. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but my whole life has been all about one foot after another, just chewing up the miles and getting the work done. Not always in spectacular fashion, but always getting it done.
It was re-affirmed to me as well that those who give the most, always continue to give the most. Jamie has already put his body on the line for a good cause more times than most people will ever consider doing. The support crew is full of people who spend much of their time helping others, teaching, assisting and encouraging people not just during this run, but in their everyday lives.
I learned again what it is to be a doer. These guys are doers. They are running, they are contributing and working for others. Raising money and awareness for the Alzheimers Foundation. Sacrificing their time, their money and even their bodies for a cause that means something to people who can’t help themselves. Jamie’s gift is the ability to run and the ability to speak and inspire people to get on board a journey that is bigger than 80kms a day. I learned once again, a lesson that I have learned many times in my life. That we don’t all need to run the whole way ourselves, that we can run with others and support people who have big vision and the skill and aptitude to get things done.
I’m glad to have been a small part of the process, and to kick off this run. Not many people will experience running into a small crowd of open arms, in the middle of Victoria, after running an ultramarathon distance. I encourage everyone to jump on board and give Jamie and the crew a pat on the back, a word of encouragement and even a couple of bucks.
Big love to Jamie, big love to Mary for moulding such a fine man, and massive thanks to the support crew and everyone who has gotten on board supporting this legend.
As Always, Just Be Nice.
Many Miles For Mary Facebook Page
EveryDay Hero Fundraising Page
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports