(Fluctuations)

Surfacing from an energy low, I feel lucky. I’m totally free, privileged, healthy, and motivated to create.

My creation in the summer is mainly physical. I don’t have a ton of free time—which may sound surprising because I’m a professional trail runner, but I somehow manage to fill my days as if I had a full-time job-and when I do have free time, I prefer to be with friends and to read. I don’t play instruments, sing, paint, charcoal or sculpt and writing has taken a backseat. Movement is my art.

Even still, usually, my art is in the form of a banal run. I don’t regularly log 20-mile epics, tagging multiple peaks with secret short cuts. My training isn’t something to call home about. This is because I realize that I run best when I’m in a simple routine at home, in Boulder, CO, listening to my coach, David Roche, getting regular treatment from my acupuncturist, Ginna, and body work sage, Marcus, and moving my body in a civilized, not otherworldly way.

Since I had to run both Lavaredo and Never Summer this summer in order to get the points for my ultimate A race: UTMB, my training has been my racing. Everything in between my races has been an effort to regain control over my body. I love basic af, flat 8-mile runs on a paved bike path. I am not extraordinary when it comes to my training and I am so grateful to have a coach with such psychiatric awareness to know this is what I need. So, thanks, David.

Yet, I sometimes feel insecure about not doing enough. Not running enough miles. Not getting enough vertical gain each week. Not cross training enough or measuring my protein intake. But, when those doubts enter my brain, I try to envision myself as a junior in high school. I get weapy just thinking about how this is when I actualized my love for running, for the Earth, for loved ones, for seasons and for competition.

Like so many high school cross-country practices, we’d endure brutally hot 3pm after school workouts in mid-August. But, those would be quickly consumed by delightfully crisp practices, as early as September. I recall the joy of short, fast, hard runs, surrounded by faster boys than me (I must’ve averaged 40-mile weeks at most). In high school cross-country, if I wasn't feeling great, my friends would lead the conversation or tell me ,‘you’ll feel better,’ tomorrow. If I was feeling great, I’d come home to my parents’ kitchen, on top of the world: ‘I crushed intervals today and Sean asked me to Homecoming.’

On top of the running, school was invigorating. New books, topics, dreams, friends. I was unstoppable during fall. Even if I was injured, like many autumns in college in my New Jersey second home, I’d still gain energy from the changing of seasons. The colors of the Northeast’s country roads, rolling like caterpillars—how can you not lose your mind being surrounded by such splendor?

Now, by society’s standards, I’m an adult and not starting school again this fall. I haven’t taken a course (and finished it) in five years. But something about this fall—which hasn’t even begun in earnest, yet, feels like I’m back in that cyclic energy boost again.

To be clear, I’m a very fair-weathered homo sapien. Global warming tickles my bones in a way that assaults my brain. I love hot weather. I think better in hot weather. I run better in hot weather. I wear fewer clothes in hot weather. But, starting a run yesterday with a long-sleeve shirt signaled the changing season: it’s like I’ve been given an IV of full-body spirit fingers.

Now, I’m not at my peak of energy. Like I mentioned, I’m coming off a low. These ‘lows’ hit me unexpectedly and in the past few years, have started to hit harder than ever before. My partner, Lenny, is the only person who’s been able to witness how random my energy levels and mood swings can be. Since I’ve found solace in reading how so many other people experience such fluctuations in life, I’m sharing mine here.

Still, I’m fortunate; I don’t suffer from depression. I don’t suffer from substance abuse. Both of which run in my family. I just experience some lows and some really extreme highs. I’m writing this in some ways to will a high, with the changing of seasons and with an upcoming race of my life. That being said, we cannot control everything. Accepting fluctuations in our lives is key, right?

Helping others in our lives who suffer from uncontrollable fluctuations, like depression or substance abuse or an abrupt breakup is what we should do, right?

It’s hard to know what I should do. But, above all, creation is key. When we create, that could be something as simple as ‘your job,’ art, code, words, movements, emails, calls to your parents—that’s better than not creating anything, right? If in doubt, read that book or go for that run or see those friends—you know what you need most. And know, that if you’re in a low, it’ll get better.

Moving onwards with some creation: here’s what I can control:

Knowledge. Even though so much of the world sucks, I choose to continue to shove as much knowledge of the world, especially about the topics I care most about, into my brain.

Like:

  1. The EPA just repealed the Clean Power Plan with a new ‘Affordable Energy Plan’ that will cause premature, preventable deaths, totaling 1,400 annually by 2030 because some amoral planet-ruiners in DC think taking away coal power plant restrictions is a good idea. Read the summary: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/climate/epa-coal-pollution-deaths.html

  2. Smell that haze? Your allergies suck? Can’t see a goddamn thing past 100 feet because the air is filled with fine particular matter, aka smoke, from forest fires? Well, remember this feeling in November when you vote this midterm. Extreme and numerous and forest fires is the new norm with climate change. I see no reason how any American could justify voting for an elected official who is not committed to mitigating climate change. If you can give me a reason, please email me at cgall44@gmail.com. Thank you.

  3. Bookmark this. https://powactionfund.org/ A bunch of trail runners and I just realized that trail runners are as concerned about climate change as we are. Thus, we’re devoting our time and energy to this org because it's the real deal. The ballot guide coming out in October will show us which candidates are climate friendly. Pledge to vote. It’ll help you sleep at night.

At the very least, for the love of god, please don’t vote for someone who is in bed with fossil fuel companies. Vote for someone better, smarter, less of a planet-ruiner.

Thank you.

Also, good luck to everyone running UTMB. I hear it’s quite the loop.