Monday, 23 January 2012

#46: Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

It's Monday and it's miserable out... so I'm going to write a blog post.

First up is a surprising find and suggestion. It's a blog called 'Not Born to Run' by a 40-something naturopathic doctor and obesity advocate named Dr. Jacqueline Jacques. In it, she eloquently describes her own introduction to running and best of all, she admits to not liking it very much. It's been so long that I now forget my own beginnings and immense struggles with running, but can assure you that they did not all go smoothly and that I was not a natural. No one is born to run! We can be raised and nurtured to run and some of us may even find we are good at it; but everyone must find that out for themselves, and that is a highly personal journey. My profound passion for running came after great costs of time and energy. Like anything valuable and worthwhile in life, we must persistently work at something and dedicate ourselves to making it work.

This find may be particularly surprising due to the recent attention I got for criticizing a mediocre "newbie" runner for her own blog which appeared on Canadian Running. There was a great deal of controversy and criticism directed at me for this and that's fine: I stand by my statements and expect to be held accountable for my actions. What I hope to make clear is that my criticism and comments were not made because the of the authors’ ability, talent or fact that she wrote a blog, but due to what (in my opinion) constitutes a lack of accountability to show any degree of commitment to the pursuit of her public and published goals. I highly respect and support runners of any ability who are willing to take the time to set and achieve their goals and who show passion and commitment toward their training. However, those who train willy-nilly and yet expect to be recognized and praised for their admittedly poor efforts frustrate and annoy me to no end. I am tired of the entitled and politically correct attitude of current running society where every runner must be accepted, celebrated and praised for everything they do. Call me old-fashioned, but there was a time (the 70’s and 80’s) when runners actually had to work hard for what they hoped to achieve and those that did were rewarded (while those who didn’t were criticized and cast aside).

I’m not here to start a new war of words. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to run to the best of their abilities; one of the few activities that almost anyone can do. Regardless of the reasons you run (for pleasure, fun, fitness, health, and/or for social reasons), running is a sport which inherently involves competition (whether you like it or not). Running in its purest and most basic form involves covering a distance as quickly as possible. When done for this (intended) reason, it’s also called a race. And if you sign up for a race, you consign yourself to participate in a competition and thus be judged and evaluated based on your performance. If you want to run a marathon, that’s great. But a marathon is a race and always will be! You can race against your current self, your prior self or others; but you will race.

Getting back to the idea of commitment: a necessary component of successful running. We may not all share the same degree of commitment to our running. We all have other important priorities, obligations and responsibilities that mean running will only ever be a part of our lives. We can only dedicate so much time and attention to our running at any given point in our lives. But when one sets a goal and commits oneself to the achievement of said goal, one then becomes accountable to that goal. If you don’t set goals, you can’t become committed and thus are not accountable. Many people like this idea and thus simply refuse to set goals in the first place. These people are cowards!

The state of running today is a microcosm of society at large. People refrain from setting goals and being accountable; they commit to nothing or only as little as they can afford and then they expect validation and celebration for their modest and mediocre efforts. This is what I oppose and this is what I will continue to speak out against.

To conclude: today is a shitty day. It’s cold and wet and will rain all day long. My training program says I am supposed to run 16k today with the middle 7k at 4:20/k pace. Yesterday I ran 27k and tomorrow I will run 15. By week’s end I should have done 120! I really don’t want to do this. I’m tired, my ankle is sore, the weather sucks and I have other/better things to do. But I’m going to do them anyway... because I set a goal (a modest and relatively mediocre 2:45 marathon), I have friends to whom I am accountable (as well as myself!) and this goal/outcome is important to me.

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