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A story about trail running: “Don’t ask for security, ask for adventure”

By Patrick De Lorenzi

Heart accelerates, the sound of the feet touching the floor, the breath deepens and the mind gradually abandons all thoughts and focuses solely and exclusively on the present time. Moments of pure essence, of total connection between our mind and body, this is the gift that running gives us in our lives full of thoughts, obligations, jobs, expectations, stress. For some years now, my ambition has been to simplify my life, bringing it closer to the emotions I feel while I run.

I had a very lucky life, full of fun, jobs, things to do, conversations, dinners. Every day I woke up and faced a lot of choices: what pair of shoes to put on, where to go for lunch, where to go riding, work work work, decide what cell phone covers buy on Amazon, working again, often till late. Always surrounded by people, I was the “hyped” one, the one who always said yes and found solutions in every situation to entertain and please everyone. And I never gave up. I used to took every job opportunity I had, I never said no; working times used to get longer, I had to earn more, do more, he who hesitates is lost! I ran to relieve the stress, finding time to do it between lunch and other work.

My girlfriend started telling me to work less, I was often in the office more than 12 hours, and what did I do? I bought a laptop to work from home!

Every day was an adventure, always different, high stress, high risk, more and more, more things, more events, more conversations. I have spent years that way.

“In every crisis lies a breakthrough”

Then everything changed. From one day to the next, I found myself in prey to crazy pain through my whole body, I couldn’t even walk or work anymore, let alone ride a bike or run! I had to lie down for 12 months, alone, confined to the house, I was diagnosed with one neurological syndrome called fibromyalgia. And the cure? Here comes the fun part: there is no cure, only palliatives. Everything I had built in 28 years had to be reviewed and modified.

In this moment of deep “unmotivated” crisis, where everything had “been taken away from me”, I started to question all the choices I have ever made. But even more than the choices, I was wondering the reasons why of many things and basically if everything that we usually take for granted, that we think enriches us and improves our lives, was true in my case. If everything I thought to be an added value was not actually removing value from the essence of my life.

“Breakthrough – Time to take action”

I radically changed my diet, removing everything that was processed or coming from animals and I started having incredible improvements, which for doctors on the paper could not exist.

I needed some form of movement, the pain was still too much to run and to ride a bike. I learned to swim. A sport that I hated, that has always been boring and tiring for me but in a month it became my best ally and I started to love it and not being able to go on without practicing it.

Weeks went by, and slowly I started riding around the city on my bike. And I still remember, after a few weeks, the moment I tried to run for one kilometer: an incredible emotion. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for that kilometer, for how it made me feel and for the effects it had on my life. Hope had returned to my life.

I managed to defeat and put this syndrome into remission entirely with my forces, changing nutrition, moving every day and totally eliminating external stress that had a weight on my life. Doing these simple things, constantly, has helped me to recover from a syndrome that according to the medical community has no cure. In the crisis I had looked myself in the eyes and I had been confronted exactly with myself from my previous life. I had taken a break from the frenzy, and had savored a life without external stress.

In the healing phase, I kept repeating myself: “We are never going back to how life was before. If you could design your life, down to the very last detail, what would it look like?

What are my dreams? In my ideal world, what would my awakening be like in the morning? Who would I interact with during the day? What would my goals be?

The answer for me after this crisis was clear: health, freedom and authenticity.

Health immediately jumped to the first place. Without our health we have nothing. I started to live according to this, always putting first the foods I chose to eat, keeping my body active and vital with sport and training. Health cannot be bought. And we realize how important it is, only when we no longer have it.

Freedom because when we are free, we can really focus on what makes us feel good, without compromising.

Authenticity because it is here that what is most precious for our life, for our personal improvement, is hidden. If we are authentic, we can start an authentic life. Very often what happens to us in life does not really belong to us, it is the result of a chain of causes that do not depend 100% on us.

I started to feel a deep sense of gratitude towards the people who had been close to me during this crisis. To my girlfriend, who saw me in great pain every days, but that has never given up. I made it my priority to spend much more time with her. Going through this together has made us incredibly stronger and more intimate. Run after run, one thing seemed increasingly clear to me: she is the woman of my life, I had to ask her to marry me. But before I asked her, I wanted to give her a clear signal that we would have never go back to the starting point, that the gloomy past had definitely disappeared.

For this reason, without saying anything, I signed up for an Ironman 70.3, with the idea of asking her to marry me after the finish line. A clear sign that not only had I healed, but I had become a much more better person than she could have ever imagined.

I felt the same sense of gratitude for incredibly simple things that before went unnoticed, buried by the frenzy of life. The warm rays of the sun, the silence of the streets early in the morning. Only the fact that I could walk without pain for me was enough to give me a huge sense of gratitude that I had never felt before. I have given priority to self love gestures that benefited me. I started been consistent in workouts, devoting time to myself, especially to running, given the new goal I had in mind. I decided to devote more time and energy cultivating this connection between mind, body and intentions that I found in running.

“Freedom because when we are free, we can really focus on what makes us feel good, without compromising.”

While running, I freed myself with each stride, with each accelerated heartbeat, of a past that no longer belonged to me. With every kilometer I left behind what was not essential for the future, revealing new sides and peculiarities of my person that I had never known in 28 years.

With each step I discovered new potential, buried over the years in conformity and in social narratives. New ambitions, new answers.

And in the middle of all of this, a voice that was growing louder inside me kept repeating me: “if you really want it, you can do what you want”.

“The more things you own, the more they own you”

Simple, unprocessed, authentic. Food and lifestyle. And all its components.

I started traveling only with a backpack, with all the essentials inside and nothing more. Every

travel I reduced its content, until I realized that even at home I used to live with the same 5/10 things. I didn’t need anything more than what was in my backpack.

I started to think in terms of working hours: I no longer applied a price to things to buy, but a cost in hours of life: “how much do I have to work to afford this? Is it worth? Is it essential for my life?”. Half measures no longer existed: the answer was simply yes or no. I made a list with the cardinal things I needed in various areas of my life and I realized one thing. I needed more time, not money.

I sold 90% of what I owned, I went from having more than 30 pair of shoes to having just 3, and I did the same for the rest of my stuff. I dedicated the necessary time to work, trying to choose interesting and motivating projects, but I didn’t let the job take over. I was driven by a desire for autonomy.

These pictures are important because they represent the training done up to 30 days before my Ironman debut. I shared intense preparation with my girlfriend while exploring together Bali and Lombok, dedicating myself to this enormous goal in secret, without her knowing it. We got lost in the rice fields, we shared moments in incredible places. I wanted to make her part of this huge  change, of what travel and exploration can create, and at the same time thank her for everything she had done for me when I needed the most. I can happily say that she is now my wife.

The more you grow, the more responsibilities you have, but why? Throughout this journey, I really asked myself what I needed to make my life rich. My answer was that the only thing you really need is to maintain physical and mental well-being as a daily lifestyle. Our body and our mind together form a formidable machine, that has to be recognized and not taken for granted even for a second. This is a gift that is given to us, fo that I feel an incredible gratitude. It is our duty to honor it and maintain it, allowing it to reach its maximum potential.

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