This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.
I got the book late yesterday from Amazon (personal purchase) and finished it this afternoon.
So it kept my attention and while it was not the dashing Sword and Sorcery Heroic Fantasy adventure novel I prefer, by any stretch of the imagination, I didn't put it down too often either.
In it I was called a head case, choker, self saboteur, overly self-conscious and fantasy based runner. Fitzgerald had described in vivid details, so many of my weaknesses as a runner, it was like Chapter 4 of the book was written about me, not Siri Lindley.
Even though I do not resemble any elite athlete, that chapter and the failures described was/are/is the athlete I am. Yeah, at a vastly different level of competence and competitiveness and unfortunately - none of the successes.
I have re-read that chapter twice now and it is pretty scary to admit how accurately it described and put into words many of the feelings, thoughts and struggles that I have had over the years I have been a runner.
Sometimes, well if I am honest with myself quite often, I get these delusions of grandeur about how great I am going to do in my next race - those fantasies that do not have any connection to reality for a guy a helluva lot closer to 60 than anything else. If you have read my blog for any length of time, this has been a problem for a lot longer than I have been blogging.
If I take nothing else from this book, I will take away being able to put into words about is going on inside of me, when I am attempting to get better, you know that faster/further thing and get goals or ideas that are beyond what my body is now capable of doing, without changing a bunch of other things also.
Now to take the governor off and get to work on what I need to do instead of:
Distinct from mental rehearsal, or practicing a sport in the mind at rest, which is proven to enhance performance, fantasizing about desired outcomes is a maladaptive coping skill that may be associated with lack of confidence in one's ability to make these outcomes happen through one's own efforts.
Yeah, that's me fantasizing about how great I am going to do and then when it comes time to get down to doing instead of just dreaming - I don't.
It is time to get rid of the fantasies, work and focus on what I can do.
That would be a big change, now to walk-the-walk.
Usually after a race I am super pissed at myself for not digging in and doing more, which makes takes dead aim at those fantastical dreams that I had about the race and destroys pieces of my confidence even more.
In Chapter 6 - The Gift of Failure, Fitzgerald uses a Tour De France bicyclist to bring how you can use failure to push towards using it to motivate you to perform at a higher level than you have in the past. Use anger constructively instead of destructively.
Yeah, I have plenty experience with the failure side of this story and more than a little pent-up anger over how I have failed and the manner in which I did. Now to harness some of that anger and create a little "sweet disgust".
Passion Knows No Age
I am an old fart when it comes to running and getting older every year and yes, I plan to run until the day I die or the wheels come off completely, whichever comes first.
Fitzgerald says the following:
The most successful endurance athletes over the age of 40 are so similar in personality it's almost uncanny. What we see in all of these men and women is a limitless passion for sport and for the athletic lifestyle that stems from a positive, life-embracing personality that is non-neurotic, open, extraverted, conscientious style of coping with life.
That is not always me, but I am passionate about running (although my focus is often a bit off), fairly open to most things, conscientious, although I am probably more introverted than extraverted, I do have my moments and seem to care less and less about what others think of me now (which is a part of my introversion and wanting to stay in the shadows). The risk of failure is too risky - right especially for those who have been knocked down and kicked a few too many times, so I am probably a little neurotic too.
A lot to think about is what is going on so far.
Is It Worth It?
In answer the question though of "Is it worth it?" Most of my life that answer has been "no". Running is not worth the extra work, pain, deprivation or suffering that goes along with really going after something. I have been content to float along and just stay in my comfort zone and only crawling outside of it on rare occasions.
I am not sure of where this one will lead me and what my answer will be. This is the one place that is the beginning of the failure cycle in my running, because I have not felt that running was worth it. This is going to require a LOT more thinking on my part.
Why do I run?
Not for glory, not for medals or to stay in shape or even to be able to eat crap foods. I always believed that I ran because I can, but what am I really attempting to accomplish with my running?
I may have found at least part of the answer in Chapter 12 when Fitzgerald uses Pre as his example.
"Why run is a question often asked," he (Pre) wrote in a high school essay. "Why go out there every afternoon and beat out your brains?...What is the logic in punishing yourself each day, of striving to become better, more efficient, tougher? He (Pre) went on to answer his own question. "The value in it is what you learn about yourself. In this sort of situation all kinds of qualities come out-things that you may not have seen in yourself before."
There is self-discovery in running that I have found in running that I find in nothing else. It is me out there pitting myself, often against myself and having to face up to my weaknesses, learn more about my strengths and work on becoming better as a runner, which in turn I believe has made me a better person, as I learn more and more about myself.
The reality is that
One pop psychology book on running that is read in an afternoon is not likely to change me or who I am, but at the same time that book can make me think, take a look at what I am doing, as well as tell me others struggle with some of the same issues and have overcome them.
Even though I am older than the elite athletes Fitzgerald writes about, if you change the names, the level of competition, I think that the stories and issues are ones that many recreational athletes can identify with. I know that I did.
Now I get to think about what I really want from my running and how badly do I want it. Yeah, I have a few ideas and a bunch of stuff to work on.
Good book and one that I have a feeling will be on the headboard of my bed, so I can reach for it easily and go back to re-read again, many of the parts that made me go huh or oh shit that sounds an awful lot like me.
You know that guy who is a head-case and chokes in competition.
It is just a matter of "how bad do you want it" and whether what you are seeking is worth it to you
Gonna change some things and get back to at least one foot in reality again - methinks.