Recently I reviewed Tim Davis’s inspiring book Tripolar. I was then fortunate enough to ask Tim some questions in an email and got some great responses. Here are the questions along with Tim’s responses (in italics).
1. Did I get the story right in a nutshell? For your recovery, the 12 step program and support from meetings and sponsors were essential. Endurance athletics, including triathlons, helped more with dealing with bipolar. For my recovery, there are 3 important components, but I feel exercise is the most essential one. The three components are: (A) 12 step program, and especially working the steps with a sponsor, (B) Remaining med-compliant by taking my bipolar medications everyday and seeing my psychiatrist regularly (which is only once every 3 months since I’ve been stable for so long), and (C) Regular exercise, at least 45-60 minutes of cardio everyday (maybe one rest day per week, if I’ve really gone hard on multiple days that week)
2. You had a cool quote from Dean Karnazes that ends with “If you want to talk to God, do an ultra”. Does that line resonate with your experience? Is it because in order to reach spiritual heights you have to be willing to hit lows along the way also? I’ve never done anything longer than marathons and century rides, so I haven’t experienced what it is, especially, about the extra-long stuff that leads to spiritual or peak experiences. I would like it if you put the whole Dean quote in there: “If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to get in shape, run a marathon. If you want to talk to God, run an ultra.” And yes, that very much resonates with my experience. Most often when people ask my why I run 100-mile endurance mountain trail runs, I most often tell them because it is a truly spiritual experience. Yes, it is because to reach the spiritual heights, you have to hit the lows. How else could one truly appreciate heaven, if they haven’t been through hell first? You know what I mean.
3. As I remember towards the end of the book you were saying your ultrarunning days may be numbered because of injuries. Do you have plans on what you’d transition into? I’m especially interested because I went threw this: I had both hips replaced due to arthritis and am not supposed to run anymore. I filled in with other activities like hiking and biking. But I did have to get creative, doing things like standing up to pedal for long periods, to find anything as enjoyable as running. Yes, I did mention that at the time I was writing the book. I have since had stem cells injected in my really bad left knee, and it has been amazing. Before that, I thought I would be lucky to still be able to do 5 & 10Ks any more. Now, I feel like I can run long distances well into my 60s unless some other major injuries flare up. I’m only 46 years old, and I am gonna stick to ultrarunning and triathlons for as long as I can. When my running days are truly over, I will just do more swimming, biking, hiking, and cross-training. Most recently, I have started kayaking more, and I just put a team together and have put in for entry into next years Eco-Challenge Patagonia in Chile, which will consist of glacier trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding, and rope climbing and rappelling, oh and some surprise challenges they have not yet informed us of. Oh boy, I love surprises. No fear!
For background to the second question, Dean Karnazes is a famous ultramarathoner who has also written multiple very enjoyable books about his experiences. I’ve read a lot of books by ultra-endurance athletes, and the theme of going through lows and highs during a long event is common. I personally am always searching for a peak experience on my adventurous outings, I must admit that ultra-athletes seem to find it more often than I do, even if they have to go through lows to get to it. That is what prompted question 2. Tim’s response confirms my speculation that going through the lows is prerequisite to reaching the highs. I am not the first to notice that, in this way, ultra-endurance events are like a microcosm of life.
I was really happy to here the good news about Tim’s knee. I am looking forward to hearing of his further adventure’s in the future, especially now that he is adding team multi-event challenges to the mix. So I will continue to check out ultratimdavis.com.