Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Darkness

The dark season is creeping up fast here in Alaska. It's not getting light in the morning now until about 8:00, and by about 5:30 in the afternoon it's mostly dark. I like daylight. But I actually really like running in the dark.

One of my favorite things about 100 mile races is that you are out for so long that you get a full cycle of darkness, into daylight, and back into darkness. I love the transition points. Dawn and dusk. When I've been running all day and then darkness sets in I feel almost like I'm running in a new dimension. In the daylight I notice myself running over the landscape, but once darkness sets in and I can't see as well I begin to feel like I can't tell where my body ends and the trail begins. It becomes a feeling of connectedness to the land and I feel like I'm being pulled along by the landscape rather than running over the landscape (imagine the moving walkways at airports).

I also really like running in the dark without my headlamp on. It's amazing to me sometimes how well I can "feel" the trail. It forces you to run with very relaxed legs, ready to absorb the nuances of any obstacles you might step on. I think this teaches us to be better runners even when we can see the trail just fine. Sometimes when I'm really "feeling" the trail I can run just as fast without my headlamp on as I can with it on. Give it a try the next time you're running in the dark. It's not as difficult as it sounds.

4 comments:

Chad Sayban said...

I understand where you are coming from running in the dark. Sometimes the headlight or flashlight makes it harder to run. I get stuck in tunnel vision-mode and it becomes really uncomfortable. Once my eyes adjust, I am often more comfortable just running with the dim light of the moon and stars.

By the way, congratulations on such a great racing season.

saschasdad said...

I tend to run a lot in the dark with my headlamp off, too. I definitely agree it makes me run more relaxed and gets me more in-tune with the trail. And, it's just cool!

Alaskan Assassin said...

Winter is my favorite time to run for that reason. I love to run up mountains late at night in the dead of winter with only the northern lights guiding the way.

I think that is one of the main reasons I live where I live.

Glen said...

Darkness only opens your eyes to different views of familiar places.

I had one of the most amazing experiences running alone under the harvest moon a few weeks ago in the Swell in So. Utah...pushing through Crack Canyon in the middle of the night.

The funny thing is that the run wasn't planned...I just felt the need to do it while sitting by the campfire.

Many of our best experiences come without planning. Rather, they happen when we allow them to occur. Thanks for your posts...