Continuing my previous post on "heart" and "head" runners, one of the great pleasures of being a part of the ultra scene these days is watching 24-year-old Kilian Jornet of Spain do his thing. Over the past few years, Kilian, who anchors the Salomon Running team, has accomplished some incredible feats, such as resounding wins at Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, the Western States 100 and many European mountain races. But with Kilian, the incredible goes way beyond his resume and even his freakish talent. The way he runs can be described, at least in my own mind, in the following ways: beautiful, like a child full of excitement, passionate, with his heart.
Watching Kilian run is like watching my son, Noah, or my nephew, Alex, run. They run with passion. With nothing holding them back mentally or physically, Noah and Alex tear down the hallway, down hills and across the grass. They don't hold back; they're all in with each stride and living the moment for all it's worth. There's no jogging with them! That's what I think of when I see Kilian run. His mind and body are both fully engaged--he's a part of the environment. See for yourself:
I watch the many videos of Kilian that are on YouTube and I can't help but think this is the way one should run--and live. For many of us, something happens over the course of our lives that takes the inner kid from us. Maybe it's the stresses of adulthood--a mortgage and bills to pay, schedules to juggle, "stuff" to buy, a house to clean, putting food on the table, job worries, shrinking 401Ks, etc. A lot of that, I think, weighs us down, squelches our spirit and effectively kills our ability to truly live free. Life becomes almost a coffin. I have to think this all spills into running. As I asked in my last post, is going all out--like a child full of excitement--and risking spectacular failure in pursuit of great achievement really all that bad? I think if you asked that of Kilian, he'd say running with unbridled passion, regardless of what happens, is the only way to run. Maybe that explains why he loves it so much.
I think what holds of back isn't the physical or even the environment around us. What holds us back is ourselves--what's in our mind! I'll be telling myself that the next time I'm running up a 13,000 or 14,000 foot mountain and questioning whether I can keep going. I can!