Muddy from the flooded trail I run into our street and see him picking up scattered bits of litter. Not a man of many words, he waves. Shiny black shoes, crisp charcoal trousers, starched white shirt, neatly knotted tie. He’s been retired for years now, but he’s still up and about early each day. He’s also wearing a yellow lumo vest for safety even though the few cars on our street won’t be out for another hour. It’s the right thing to do.
You can take the policemen off his beat but you can’t take the discipline out of Shay. Neat, upright, on duty and serving the public. It’s how he makes sense of things.
It’s a basic truth: You are how you make sense of things.
ou do not have to wear compression calf sleeves. But they might be just the ticket.
No-one is able to say whether a hydration bladder or drinking bottles are best. You have to work it out. I prefer to lie on my tummy on the wet ground and drink straight from the stream.
Is a backpack, a running vest, or a hip belt right for you? I don’t know. It’s yours to try out. Perhaps you’ll be lucky first time. Or you might be wrong and try again until you work it out. Or you can keep on using something uncomfortable. It’s up to you.
Should you do a big multi-stage run? It’s expensive and takes time. But if it will make you feel alive and believe in yourself then it’s more than worth it. I wear gloves when I’m cold. They’re amazing and I think you’d like them. But I got them from a roadside store on Route 66 when I motorcycled from Chicago to LA with a good buddy. They were made by a small local trader so you can’t buy some just like them. What will you do?
And what socks suit your feet? What about those toe socks – will they prevent you from getting blisters? When do you get blisters? Perhaps you don’t. That’s what’s great about TRAIL Magazine – it’s always full of great gear options so that you can see what resonates for you. It helps you to blaze your own trail.
I go to a client’s summer party and organise a spontaneous game of soccer using the big blow-up dice from the giant snakes and ladders game. It’s a good idea at the time. As I kick the inflated cube I hear a crisp pop and feel my right rectus femoris muscle in my quad tear. I know what it is because I’ve had it before on the other leg.
My training is interrupted. My spirits drop. The marathon I’m preparing for is threatened. I’m frustrated. I limp. Last week I was sprinting and jumping fallen trees. Life suddenly slows.
I wasn’t expecting to have to makes sense of this. I thought I’d paid the torn rectoris femoris god its dues, but it came back and took more. So now I have to work it out again. I choose every sore morning to RICE, stretch and roll my way through recovery because running trails is an essential part of who I am – I want to do it.
And that, my friend, is the purpose of our lives. To make sense of things for ourselves.
We each have to find our own way.
You are not what you were. Or your mistakes. You are not what other people think of you. Or do to you. You are not your size. Or your colour. You are not your nation. Or your location. You are not your pain. Or your confusion. You are not your gender. Or your orientation. You are not your family. Or who they pray to. You are not your enemies. Or your opportunities.
You are how you make sense of these things. I ring Shay’s door to ask him something. Pauline asks me to hang on and she’ll call him - He’s just upstairs ironing his shirt for tomorrow. Of course he is: it’s his thinking time. Shay irons his shirts crisp and sharp. I run trails muddy and meandering. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we make sense of things. Not everyone chooses that.