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Category: 100 Miler

Chronos vs Kairos

Chronos and Kairos are the two Greek gods of time. Everyone’s heard of Chronos, but they might be unaware of Kairos.  Chronos represents clock time, so hours, minutes, and seconds. Kairos is the god of the “critical,” or “opportune” time.  Kairos is about those fleeting moments in which an opportunity must be seized. He is the critical time in which decisions have far-reaching consequences, moments that can change the course of our lives in an instant.

Chronos was a road runner, Kairos was a trail runner.

Chronos and Kairos represent two distinct ways in which we experience time. If you’ve lost track of chronological time, you’ve encountered Kairos. He is present in the “flow” state, when you experience a deep sense of concentration. He is the sensation you get when time seems distorted. You have moments of Kairos-type time as a child when you become engrossed in play, but as we age, we often lose touch with this as we become entrenched in our routines, operating like clockwork. We forget how to play, yet it’s a critical aspect of happiness. Kairos is found in activities that ignite meaning and passion. I didn’t think I understood him until I sat down and really thought about time. I’ve always been aware of the social construct of time as I glance at my wristwatch, which tells me the hour, minute, and second. My early running career was focused almost exclusively on Chronos—always watching the clock and trying to beat my previous times.

While I didn’t experience a mid-life crisis, I would say that I began to think differently about my relationship with time as I approached 40, and I’ll be 43 in a few days. I started to evaluate where I was investing my time, how much I had left, and how it should be spent.

Trail runners vs Road Runners

Racing now is about Kairos—the flow state. I want to lose the sense of Chronos, where hours seem to pass like minutes during an ultra race. That’s a significant reason why I enjoy ultras. To me, it’s play; it’s like being a kid again when the only purpose was play itself. You feel this odd sense of connection while moving through nature. Chronos fades away, and Kairos takes the stage. Ultras tend to be less about your finishing time and more about accomplishing what seems impossible.

The pull to do what’s required vs what’s exciting and new.

Kairos is omnipresent in nature, often found in the novelty of experiences. He could be your newfound friend whom you might meet on a trail you’ve run a hundred times, if only you greet a random stranger. He resides in the breathtaking vistas and landscapes of many ultramarathons, in parks, and along trails in remote locations. It’s not that Chronos isn’t there—because if you’re racing against cutoffs in an ultra, you’re certainly aware of him—but he’s not the star of the show; Kairos is.

I’ll never say, “I don’t have time,” or “I’m too busy.” Instead, I force myself to say, “It’s just not that important to me.” For the things that matter in life, I make it a point to clear my schedule and create time. Recognizing that difference is crucial.

Chronos the Road vs Kairos the Trail

Recognizing the path of Kairos is a deeply personal process. It’s about being attuned to the moments that bring you a sense of joy, fulfillment, and purpose—those instances that make you feel alive and connected to something greater than the daily grind. Here are a few signs and considerations that might indicate you’re on the path of Kairos:

  1. Joy and Passion: When activities or opportunities excite you and ignite a passion within, they’re likely aligned with Kairos. This joy can be a guiding light toward more meaningful experiences.
  2. Flow State: If you find yourself in a state of flow, where time seems to stand still or pass without your notice because you’re so immersed in what you’re doing, you’re experiencing Kairos.
  3. Growth and Challenge: Kairos often lies just beyond your comfort zone. If a path challenges you and promotes growth, it might be the path of Kairos calling you to step forward.
  4. Authenticity: When you’re true to yourself and your values, you’re more likely to encounter Kairos. This means making decisions based on what genuinely matters to you, not what others think should matter.
  5. Mindfulness and Presence: Being fully present in the moment allows you to recognize and seize Kairos opportunities. Mindfulness helps you appreciate the richness of your experiences.
  6. Reflection: Regularly reflecting on your life, your goals, and your happiness can help you identify where Kairos might be found. It’s about understanding what brings you a sense of purpose and making choices that align with that.

I may seem like I hate road running, but I don’t. It’s where I got my start. Don’t take offense if you love the road. I just prefer the deeper sense of adventure found in nature as opposed to the typical big-city marathon or road race. I’m not sure what differentiates most big-city marathons; if you’ve run in one city, they all start to feel the same, but perhaps that’s a closed-minded view. Whatever you choose, be it road or trail, enjoy your journey and take the road less traveled. Be open to new opportunities wherever they may present themselves before it’s too late. Your weekends and vacations are critical because they offer the rare chance to encounter Kairos, the god of meaningful time. Don’t let it slip through your fingers and realize you’ve wasted your life on trivial things. Plan that trip, sign up for that faraway race, and take on that ultra. Do it before it’s too late and time has run its course.

Time has run out…

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it please share.

Supporting or Supported?

I was thinking about races, ultras of course, and I found out why they appeal to some.  While editing my last video, Rabid Raccoon I noticed I filmed a lot of aid stations.  I love capturing interactions with people.  Aid station workers are a different breed, they are in the “supporting” role all day.  Supporting, odds are, people they don’t know.  They will feed you, fill your bottles, and maybe even fix your feet.   All of this so you can complete YOUR race.  It’s comical we pay to do this, but I see why.  You spend a DAY being pampered and in the spotlight.  You are “supported” for an entire day.  It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of subpar food, I mean don’t get me wrong, aid station food is amazing, but it’s a quick and easy fare.  It was the attention I got that I noticed in the video.  Each aid station went all out as they put all effort into meeting your needs. 

Aid station workers are an amazing group of people

Are ultrarunners just seeking attention?  Am I just seeking attention?  If you are reading this, on a blog I own and post my random thoughts, the answer is yes.  Putting that topic aside, that has to be part of the draw to racing.  Racing puts the spotlight on you.  If you have kids, work a demanding job, or have lots of stress, it can be an escape to get the attention you so desperately seek.  Running by the cheering crowds you feel as though they’re all there for you.  You are the star, you get the attention and the fame, and MAYBE you go home with the medal! 

Sometimes there are too many choices at an aid station.

I used to race constantly, initially part of me chasing that spotlight.  I felt as though I had no talent and found something I was good at.  I raced a lot and won a lot and it was addictive.  Kids and a job came, priorities shifted, and I enjoyed being out there longer.  The more time with your thoughts.  The more time you suffer.  I enjoyed that and the solitude of running.  It’s bizarre, that it went from racing surrounded by crowds to racing alone in the woods with just your thoughts.  Running for myself has changed so much, I’ve changed, and that’s what this sport does.  Running doesn’t change, but you change along the ride.  You shift from being supported by crowds and fans, to being supported by a select few.  You have to think differently as time passes.  It’s ever-evolving much like life.  Ultras and life are messy, difficult, challenging experiences that demand you to change as the race goes on.  What worked in the beginning in the race of life, doesn’t work as well in the later stages.  The game changed just as you think you’ve figured it out.

Artificial Intelligence thinks you need pens at an aid station.

You shift as we age from being supported to supporting others.  I realized you can’t always take without giving back, you have to spend time supporting.  There’s a balance that must be maintained for sanity, friendships, and relationships to stay afloat.  Taking time to help others, as much as you have been helped.  As my running career enters its next stage I’m just happy to be out on the trails.  I never take for granted all those who helped me get to this point in life, my family, friends, and all those races.  I am just trying to figure out what the next chapter will look like.  Maybe it’s helping others find meaning through movement.  I feel this strain to give back.  How can I give back?  That’s what I have been asking myself.  I am slowly figuring it out and seeing what part to play in the running community.  It just takes a lot of time, and I’m OK with that.  I used to think change happened fast, but I was wrong.  It’s slow.  REALLY slow, if not years to get to where you need to be.  You just have to take that first step!  

Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed it let me know how running has changed for you over the years, or how it has stayed the same.  There’s no right or wrong answer.