What is your running utopia?
Having worked with James Kuegler for about 18 months now, I’ve learned plenty of his thought processes and strategies, adopted many of his philosophy and also shared with him some of my own thoughts about health and fitness. The great thing about James’ and my relationship is that we challenge each other – a lot – whenever an idea is shared. Why is that great? Because these challenges are never taken personally, and therefore we end up having plenty of valuable and thought-provoking discourse whenever we meet. I think this is a rare thing nowadays.
Take this example: how many of us have walked through a mall and been aggressively greeted by a salesperson representing a pop-up store, trying to sell you some useless as-seen-on-TV product? Or, who has picked up their phone and on the other end is a cold caller pitching their latest power, insurance or internet services? How many of us are able to stop that salesperson and just say, outright, “I’m not interested in your product”?
Here in NZ we’d rather awkwardly squirm away whilst still listening to the sales pitch, or try to avoid eye contact in the hope their pitch doesn’t even get underway. Either that or we make up some fickle excuse as to why we have to carry on with our shopping instead of hearing from them. Why can’t we just be honest? Tell them we’re not interested – straight up – then smile and walk away from the situation. In Europe (another generalisation here) they don’t hesitate to tell the truth, and no one gets offended. Honesty and integrity is all it is, then people get on with their day.
Where am I going with this? I’m saying that our inability to be honest and real, or (at times) to receive honesty, is a bad habit. It’s such a bad habit that we’re often not honest and real with ourselves or those closest to us.
So how does this relate to running? As I’ve mentioned above, the last 18 months with James has taught me a lot of things. One thing that James has consistently talked about is the idea of an individual’s “running utopia”.
Recently, when I was listening to James asking a client about their favourite place to run, their most favourable distance, terrain and conditions, the penny dropped. I finally got it. This idea of a running utopia is one which could help us all to become lifelong runners and to absolutely love doing it. It’s such a foreign idea though, because we’re all too busy following the masses, doing what everyone else does and not being honest with ourselves.
If you want to truly enjoy your running – not just the race you’ve trained for, but the hours and days and months of training that it takes – you need to define your very own utopia. There are so many questions you can ask yourself to work it out. What time of day do you like to exercise? Do you like to run alone, or in a group? Maybe you like a bit of both. What’s your ideal amount of time or distance to run for? What sort of terrain and surrounding environment do you love? Is it the high rise buildings of a city marathon? Or the canopy of foliage covering a hidden trail?
What are your goals with running? Most importantly, why are they your goals? Is it because of someone else’s ideals? Because people you know are running that half-marathon in November? Or are your goals truly yours? Are your running endeavours about you, your health, your longevity and your happiness?
If running for 12 hours over mountains and through rivers isn’t actually something that excites you, then you shouldn’t be entering that off-road ultra. It’s elementary really, but we see so many people not making this simple consideration. Often the true motivation is that the individual wants to “tick if off the list” or “prove to myself that I can do it”. The reality is that there are so many events out there that you truly can tick it off and prove to yourself at an event you’ll actually enjoy training for and racing in!
James Kuegler has spent countless hours taking part in, and on the sidelines of almost all of New Zealand’s running calendar events. Add to that the time he has spent racing overseas in events around the world. James’ truly unique knowledge and understanding of many of the world’s running races makes him an invaluable individual to talk to if you’re planning on training for a race. His idea of a running utopia will pave the way for an excellent and enjoyable running experience.
Article by Tim Leeming. Exercise Nutritionist. BAppSci (Hons)