Bleak and Beautiful #4: The Forest (part 1)

I’ve been reading this story about this runner that gave up everything he had. He sold all of his possessions and used the money to build a house. He built it along the river, close to all the trails, but away from everyone else. He needed to be alone. So he moved into the forest to train.

Twice a day, every day, he trained with the hope of being the best in the world. He was gone for a year and when he came out of “hiding” he was a different runner. Filled with strength, endurance and peace, it was almost unfair to toe the line against him.

The story takes places not far from where I’m living.

I decided to go and try to find some sort of sign to see if this legend is real.

Categories: bleak and beautiful, story, video


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7 Comments on “Bleak and Beautiful #4: The Forest (part 1)”

  1. Eric
    October 13, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Beautiful video! Thanks. Only thing the story lacks for me – individual effort vs. coaching. Can we really become all we can be alone and in isolation?

    • October 13, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

      @Eric, the runner had a mentor/coach who visited him periodically and gave him workouts. I just didn’t mention that.

      It should be noted that the runner read about someone who went to live in the desert for 40 days in order to find peace and strength before going back to do what he was meant to do. This story inspired the runner to do the same…

  2. Doug
    October 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    Great blog, I enjoy reading about your view of the world around you, it has taken me time but I have can relate to your observations. I have a quick question, I hope you don’t mind. My 16yr old daughter runs competitive track/cross country. She was diagnosed with ADHD years ago which has affected her running especially in the past year where it has become more competitive and she has had to work harder to keep up. When she is having a good day, she dominates her practices and races. She has asked me many times how to keep focused and motivated during her running, I’ve tried to give her answers to no avail. I just thought you might have some suggestions especially during those difficult moments in a race or a practice that you use to push yourself to finish strong? Again sorry to ask.

    • October 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

      @Doug – I’ve been there all too many times.

      The best advice I have, I received from Peter Jensen… it may be worth ordering what you can of his off of amazon. (

      He taught me two very basic principles.
      1. Practices are designed FOR PRACTICING.
      After learning this principle on a Monday night, I went into Thursday’s workout with the ONLY goal being to nail down my warm-up routine! I got my coffee 30 minutes before getting changed. Then I did a few light drills before doing an easy 15-20 minute run. I followed that with some dynamic stretching. I then put on some lighter shoes, did some strides and then the actual workout.

      It took me a few weeks to nail down the warm-up but I focused on one specific element of the workout.

      Another example: I focused on ONLY the middle part of the workout. The workout was 5×800 with 2 minutes rest between the first 3 and 5 minutes rest between the last 2. I remember saying to myself (as I was drinking my coffee before the workout), “Stay relaxed in your upper body and run that 4th one with relaxed shoulders and a relaxed face.” (I ran 2:10, 2:10, 2:10, 2:01, 1:58)

      2. Act on the things you can control and let go of things you can’t act on.

      The main point to this one is that runner’s often think they have more control than they actually do. If someone is having a better workout than your daughter, there is nothing your daughter can do. There is no point getting worked up about it.
      She needs to let it go, not waste energy on what is happening around her and, instead, focus on what she CAN control.

      I hope this helps.

  3. Doug
    October 14, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    thanks Michael, this is great, i really appreciate you taking the time, all the best!!

  4. Will
    October 17, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    Hi, am i correct in thinking you won the bradford half marathon today? i didnt compete but, if im correct, was cheering you on in that small crowd on Back Lane(the road after the hilly Sapgate Lane).
    anyways, well done. very impressed!

    • October 18, 2010 at 7:38 am #

      Thanks, Will. That was me. I appreciated all the cheering, from you and everyone else.

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