For 10 months of the year, my partner refers to me as a running monk. As a professional distance runner, I live a life not unlike our cat, Richard Parker – spending the majority of the day in a state of apparent malaise interspersed with brief bouts of extreme exertion.
Besides two training sessions – morning and afternoon – my work involves writing, talking on the phone, and other administrative tasks that can be done from the comfort of the couch with my feet propped up (or, with weather permitting, on our unreasonably large balcony). Otherwise, my day consists of eating (probably less than you’d expect) and sleeping (probably more than you’d expect) and entertaining Richard Parker (about as often as you’d expect).
That’s pretty much it: run, eat, work, run, sleep. Rinse and repeat.
As someone who thrives on routine, this is a most wonderful life. But as a self-proclaimed extrovert, it can get lonely.
So, it seems only appropriate that once a year I shake clear the etch-a-sketch of normalcy and spend two months herding groups of teenagers around the mountains of Peru with STRIVE. In so many ways, it’s the opposite of my running-monk-life. I’m perpetually surrounded by young people – eager kids who want to talk, want to share their stories and hear mine. I surely speak more words in these two months than I do in the other ten.
It’s exhausting. But I love it. I’m constantly under-slept, the tiredness exacerbated by the altitude, the running, the chasing kids around, haggling over meal prices and bus tickets. By week 8, I’m running on fumes, and it’s time to go home. Back to the monastery – just in time.
I don’t think I could have one without the other. I love the focus, the single-minded pursuit of something so simple that is my life when I’m training. But – sheesh – it’s tiring. And I love the insanity of my summers – I love letting my extroversion take over; I love meeting new people and hearing about their lives; I love how different it is. The yin for my yang.
I’ll be there soon – in the midst of the (controlled) chaos. And while I’m sad to leave my running monastery, I’m not Richard Parker and I can’t be a cat all year round. It’s time to switch things up.
Here we go.