Think you’ve got limits? Alex Loughrey doesn’t think so. The highs and lows of the track are a metaphor for the challenges we face in life, and they prepare us for the road ahead.
Before I start this I want to preface it by saying that I was not always a trail runner, or even into taking on crazy challenges; I was once an unhealthy, pack-a-day smoker who rarely exercised. But life can be tough at times and your body is the vessel that will carry you through. You only get one so look after it, it’s never too late to start.
I’ve been running for about 3 years now. I started off doing easy 5km runs, which eventually spawned a range of races and distances, from 10 km to 70 km. One day, I’d love to complete a 100-miler.
Ready, Set… Slow
This morning started off much the same as many others, on the train, but this time I was heading to the start of an epic adventure. Today I would be tackling the Coast Track, roughly 30km from end to end, in one push. As a trail runner, I love the feeling of pushing my body and seeing if I can find my limits. It’s a fine line at times, you never really know what you’re capable of unless you flirt with it.
I made the trek from Otford Station to the track head and started an uphill slog, followed by a demanding descent in the dark to emerge at Burning Palms just as the sun rose. When I saw the sunrise it was suddenly hard to think that I’d want to be anywhere else.
From here on it was pretty cruisy but within the next hour fatigue started to set in and I realised I hadn’t been eating or taking on calories. Slowing down the pace and enjoying the view a little more was a wise decision.
Passing halfway, the run started to become as much a mental struggle as a physical one. I pushed myself through to the top of Garie Beach and onwards to Wattamolla. In all honesty, if someone had offered me a trip home at this point I probably would’ve taken it.
Coming out of Wattamolla, an encounter with an enormous brown snake put a big strain on my already overworked heart. I decided to take it easier for a bit.
Becoming One With The Track
It’s amazing how many stages you can encounter on a run, whether it’s running up a mountain or a few k’s around the local streets. There are highs and lows; moments where you feel like rubbish and moments of pure bliss; moments where there’s no point continuing and moments of ecstasy; a beautiful symphony of human and nature in perfect synchronisation.
It’s these moments that I strive for. They’re my place of meditation, my happy place. When I found this moment, around the 23km mark, everything became easy. I was floating along the track and not even noticing the hills I was climbing or the blistering pace I was setting. There is no other feeling like this.
Wandering off the track and down to the ferry, via an ice block of course, I found myself sitting on the boat and just imagining life without boundaries. Life without limits. The sun was beating down, I was sweaty, dirty, weary, hungry and incidentally, the happiest I had been in a long time.
“There are highs and lows; moments where you feel like rubbish and moments of pure bliss; moments where there’s no point continuing and moments of ecstasy. A beautiful symphony of human and nature in perfect synchronisation.”
Trail running is my outlet, it’s my motivation and it has seen me through some extremely tough times. It doesn’t have to be trail running, it could be anything that challenges you. The point is, if you put your mind to something, you are capable of more than you can ever imagine.
I live my life by a Michael Jordan quote: “Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” Every time I’ve thought I’ve had a limit and challenged it, I’ve made it out the other side, fitter, faster and mentally and physically stronger. So go out there, and challenge your limits!