“Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being — a call that asks who they are …”
– David Blaikie

Sunday, January 21, 2018

My Fellow Extremists and Extremistas...

It is 1980 or 1990-something and you are standing against the padded wall of the school gym.  In the middle of the basketball court are the dreaded sticky rubber (1980s) or heavy foam (1990s) dodgeballs. The safest place is to be as far back as possible to avoid the vulnerability of getting hit by the flying dodgeballs, right?  At least, that is what I grew up thinking.  I would depend on the brave, courageous souls to go into the trenches of dodgeball warfare by sprinting to the center to grab a ball and start launching.  Those same kids, at the time, exuded confidence and skill - they took risks.  They allowed themselves to expose vulnerability on the dodgeball battlefield.  And, most importantly to me at that time, they did the dirty work so I could stay comfortable in the back.

In life, are you the one hiding in the back, trying to disappear into the padded wall?  Or are you the risk taker?  It all boils down to mentality, of course.

As humans - especially in this phase of evolution - there is a line that we often tend to avoid, whether subconsciously or purposefully - it is the line called....drumroll, please....balance.  Specifically, when it comes to running, or exercise in general, one side of the line is the mentality of, "You aren't tired!  You are lazy, move your ass!" even though you ran a marathon yesterday.

Placed on the other side of that line is, "It's ok, you are tired, listen to your body and try again tomorrow," even though it has been a month since you have been active at all. 

As a recovering Extremist, I preach the importance of finding a neutral place in between the extremes.  I don't kid myself anymore - I was once praised for accomplishing the extremes, but those were easy.  Finding the balance and walking that line in between is the hard part; just like staying in the back of the gym was the easy way out, but taking the risk of rushing the middle of the court to grab artillery was the challenge. Vulnerability and life in the "middle" instead of the "all-or-nothing" is difficult.  It is messy.  It is painful, as is any sort of growth or change.

As you're reading this, you are gaining an awareness of where you may fall on the spectrum of extremes.  When it comes to running, are you all-or-nothing, not surrendering into any sort of biofeedback?  Are you in the imminent burn out "nothing" phase that follows the "all" mentality?  Or are you able to balance out your running schedule and find joy in it instead of dread, pressure or guilt over it?

One of my favorite sayings is this: If you don't realize that your mentality is stuck in a box, how will you be able to think outside of it?  This is awareness, my friends.

I double dog dare you to rush the center lines of your mental struggles, expose your vulnerability, and stay fearful of the extremes.

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