Rediscovering the "Why", in Ireland

by Larissa Fransen

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I love hearing why people run.  The reasons are often very personal yet, at the same time, so relatable.  One common answer to the question of why? is that we feel truly present and alive, a powerful, deeply rewarding mindfulness that for many is best achieved through the simple act of running.

After months of training for my first 50k this summer, I found myself in a relationship with running that I didn’t like.  I stuck to a training plan as best I could, but early on I began feeling burned out and guilty if I missed a run or workout. My miles had become a task I had to accomplish rather than a part of my life that I loved, and I was anxious to get back to the simplicity of my original why. 

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A month after my 50k I traveled to Ireland for 2 weeks to support a team of 6 cyclists circumnavigating the Island to raise money and awareness for pancreatic cancer research.  On my down time I was able to be a tourist, which for me meant searching out as many trails as I could.  Trail running solo in a foreign, unfamiliar place can be intimidating.  The mental list of “what if’s” is somewhat endless, but I approached this as I would any new trail in the States.  I researched the route, downloaded a map, told someone where I was going each day, made sure I had extra snacks and water, and was prepared for potential weather.  I carried a small first aid kit and emergency blanket in my pack, as I always do.  

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With the details covered, my first few steps on trail in Ireland were exhilarating.  I again felt the thrill of the unknown and the joy of true, uncertain adventure as I ran along, continuing to find myself in awe of where I was and what I was experiencing.  The solitude in such a beautiful landscape was therapeutic and it felt empowering to know I could still feel such pure and simple excitement.  I could feel the why returning.  

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I am sure I will face a running funk again at some point, and I know I won’t likely be in a foreign country full of stunning scenery to explore, but I am inspired by the power of a new trail waiting for me, wherever that may be.  

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Willie McBride