July 16, 2013

Mindful Self Indulgence

You'll forgive me, I hope, if my last post ended on a somewhat arrogant note. There is a hint of arrogance that comes with writing a blog - especially one that has continued for several hundred posts - and I do not pretend otherwise. I also freely admit that endurance training is an inherently selfish activity. I spend several hours a day doing something that will, if all goes well, offer nothing to anyone but me. It is completely and utterly useless except in setting myself on a trajectory towards the type of person I would like to be; and in that way, it is essential.

I don't think anyone should apologize for selfish goal seeking. I think everyone has a right and perhaps even a responsibility to find their passions and indulge in them without a shred of shame, remorse, or moderation. Not surprisingly, there is data linking a failure to do so with higher instances of clinical depression. People are happiest when each day has a purpose, representing a step towards a specific target.

I have my target and I am shamelessly fucking stoked.

Which brings me back around. This is altruism through mindful self indulgence, making one's self happy and satisfied so that others around you aren't tasked with lifting your sagging spirit, so that they have energy enough to pursue their horizons.

Your passions - like mine - are where you find them. They are what they are and never could have been anything else.

It doesn't have to make sense.

To this day I have doctors comment on the flatness of my feet. They tell me I should take care to stay off of them and to avoid working them too hard. Perhaps I could ride a bike a little, they grant, but not too much. I smile and gently inform them of my mileage that week, some of my recent race results, and my absolute lack of pain, then watch as their suppositions and expectations writhe and die.

Of course, I used to believe them. In high school, I couldn't run one mile at the pace I raced 50 in a fucking mud pit last fall. In junior high, I couldn't run one mile, period. In grade school, I finished last in every race I recall running. I was the last person you'd ever think to start logging 70 mile weeks, but here we are, and here I am.

You just never know. Unless, of course, you don't try. Then you know. Then you know you won't do it, whatever your it is.

Maybe you do try, and your well of talent just isn't too deep. That's ok. Mine isn't either. I'm targeting a sub-3:30 on a course that could produce a sub-3 if real talent did show up. And you know what? I hope it does. I hope my hometown race eventually draws a field that can produce times like that.

Because it's never really about beating everyone else, even if such a thing were possible. You beat the person you used to be every day you indulge in your passion, and in that indulgence, there is ecstatic victory, genuine and deeply felt happiness.

So, yeah, that race. I'm excited. Can you tell?

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