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By Dakota Jones, Salomon Trail Running Athlete

There’s not much of a story in a bad race. Most of them are like my race at the Moab Trail Marathon back on November 5 of last year. I went out hard, ran with the leaders as long as I could, and at some point found that I couldn’t keep up. After that I just kept running, but slower than I wanted, and I finished with a mediocre performance. Not much to it, but it’s nevertheless the culmination of a long period of focused effort, so it’s worth thinking about.

I always seem to have trouble staying motivated by late Fall. I used to think that I was getting burned out at the end of a long season and needed a break, but this year I was as unmotivated as ever, despite not having nearly as intensive a racing schedule as usual. Something about the southern angle of the sun, about the weak light through the barebones trees, about cold mornings and grey days hits a lever inside of me. Some kind of primeval instinct nestled deep down that warns of the approaching cold season. “Save your energy,” it says. “Winter is coming.”

I have fought it off in the past, but I guess the truth is that this year I simply didn’t try very hard. As my motivation lagged, my mind turned to other things. I’ve been trying to learn new things. I’ve been planning for next year. I’ve tried to take trips to areas within a day’s drive that I have never explored—my adventures usually seem to take me to far-off, exotic landscapes, and it’s a wonder and a shame to find that I’ve missed so much so close to my home. I knew for months that the Moab Marathon was approaching, and I trained for it. But I just couldn’t seem to apply myself to training like usual, and I paid the price for it at the race. I wasn’t fast enough, and I fell apart. So it goes.

I have fought it off in the past, but I guess the truth is that this year I simply didn’t try very hard. As my motivation lagged, my mind turned to other things. I’ve been trying to learn new things. I’ve been planning for next year. I’ve tried to take trips to areas within a day’s drive that I have never explored—my adventures usually seem to take me to far-off, exotic landscapes, and it’s a wonder and a shame to find that I’ve missed so much so close to my home. I knew for months that the Moab Marathon was approaching, and I trained for it. But I just couldn’t seem to apply myself to training like usual, and I paid the price for it at the race. I wasn’t fast enough, and I fell apart. So it goes.

I’m excited to race again next year. I have lots of big ideas and the planning process is well underway. But I’m going to take advantage of the downtime between now and then to rest my mind and body. To dream and hope and draw lines across maps of all the places I might go next year, or the next, or maybe the one after that. A table and a warm light and all the possibility of a world before me, but with the comfort of my own quiet home to cradle that potential and give it a foundation on which to stand. There is so much to do out there! And for me, the only way to get started is to begin at home, where I feel most comfortable. Then head out in ever-broadening concentric circles until I’m well past my comfort zone and pushing my limits in all kinds of novel ways. Still, I always come back to the center, because that’s Home, and Home is where my strength can rebuild.

So maybe I just had a bad race because I spent so much time outside of my comfort zone this year that I’ll need more time back at home before I can push those limits again. Races aren’t the only way to test yourself in this sport, and I feel that I’ve progressed as an athlete even if I haven’t raced as much as usual. By late Fall I’ve usually spent a lot of months pushing my limits in different ways, so it makes sense that my motivation lags every year. Really, I should feel lucky to have been able to finish the race at all. To be able to run a whole marathon in a gorgeous place with no injuries is a gift far greater than winning ever could be. In the same way that muscles can’t strengthen unless they are first torn, we have to stress and challenge ourselves in order to grow as people. But muscles need rest to rebuild, and people need Home to reflect. So here I am, writing in my little bedroom, warm and safe, with the people I love most nearby.

Life is good.

THE GEAR I USE:
- S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra Soft Ground Shoes
- Sense Tee and Sense short
- Clif Bar visor
- Various Gels in my waistband pocket

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