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Photo credit: Seth Grotzke.

The Curse


Last updated: 05-Nov-18

By Seth Grotzke

Here at RunUltra, as well as training and nutrition, kit and caboodle, we like to feature your Runners’ Stories and Seth sent us in a tale that we thought you could all relate to and enjoy. Take it away, Mr Grotzke…

It is a story that has been lived a thousand times. I find myself once again pounding out my training run, putting in some quality time perfecting what I like to call my “shumble,” a pretty amazing blend of shuffle and stumble, when my mind begins to wander.

Slowly, my daydreams grow from just imagining being done with this run, to finding a new trail. In short order, I am overlooking a Norwegian fjord, running a Rocky Mountain ridge, or flying down a fell in the Lake District.

My mind is moving faster than my legs, which at this point is not saying too much, and the dreams are escalating. I am at the front of the pack. Kilian lowers his head as I blow past him on the incline. Dunkin’ Donuts decides to sponsor me. I’m not going to lie, these dreams are big!

It is somewhere between the finisher’s podium and finding an energy gel whose flavour doesn’t make me want to retch that I realize what is going on, I am experiencing a runner’s high. And there is no coming down softly.

So what is the problem? It isn’t that my heart rate picked up a little. It isn’t that my stride lengthened, it isn’t even that my mind has escaped all the ties of reality, the problem is that the runner’s high always seems to hit at the worst possible time. It gets me right about the time I have to make the decision to finish out the run with an undulating three miles on a soft trail, or take a hard right into the Valley of No Return and power through another 8 miles of loose rock, thorns, and no water. Of course I take the 8 miles and in my head, I’m heading into Death Valley! The Tarahumara are on my back and I must show no fear.

Once I have committed and made it about 10 minutes down the path, I return to my senses, only this time without water and facing the realisation that unless I keep going I could very well be making headlines, but not for the right reasons.

I suppose I can’t blame all my problems on that cursed runner’s high. Much of my pain is due to my poor sense of direction, overly optimistic planning, and my habit of choosing running friends who are much more capable than I am.

I could even argue that this little curse is a blessing that has played its part in me becoming an ultra runner, with my fantasies leading me further away from civilization and forcing me to fight my way home. Maybe it is my body’s way of teaching me mental fortitude? Maybe I am fooling myself into prepping for the next overnight ultra? Or maybe I’m just a sucker for imaging that Dunkin’ Donuts wants to sponsor a runner. Whatever it is, I’m on to you, Runner’s High! I won’t be falling for you again.

Wait…is that Kilian up ahead?

For more from Seth, follow him on Twitter @AccidentalUltra

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