Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Profoundly Disturbing

We've all done it. But, most of us prefer not to cop to it. Doing something profoundly disturbing is something we'd like to forget or maybe pretend it never happened. Take some solace in the fact that you are not alone. At the end of the day, we are all guilty of it.

I've encountered a number of runners over the years who are for all intents and purposes reasonable, rational, intelligent people who hold down jobs, have healthy relationships, and outwardly appear to be perfectly 'normal'. Yet, in the context of running they exhibit behavior sometimes that simply cannot be described in any way other than profoundly disturbing.

For example, 'I can't walk without excruciating pain, but I ran 10 miles anyway.'

Said person then hobbles away like someone who needs a walker. There's being courageous, there's being persistent, and then there's behaving in a manner that is profoundly disturbing. If you can't manage a walk without wincing (or crying), running a few miles (let alone 10) is going to send you quickly to the house of pain.

'I haven't run in two months, but I crammed all my runs into the past two weeks to prepare for my half marathon. Now my 'enter aggravation/injury/malady here' REALLY HURTS!' Many of us made the mistake (perhaps multiple times) of cutting class in college, not doing the assigned reading, and cramming a semester's worth of studying into a night or two.

The brain is an astonishing and amazing machine and can do things that even the most powerful computer can't (yet). While our bodies are remarkable and powerful, they don't operate like your brain. To think you can cram a season's worth of training into your body in a couple weeks is to be profoundly disturbed.

'I used 'enter gel/gu/nutrition product name here' all season long for my runs and it worked GREAT. But, on race day I decided to try 'Brand X' because it has more caffeine, ginseng, nitrous oxide, etc. I had to stop halfway through the race with GI issues!'

Races catalyze some of the most bizarre (and profoundly disturbing) behavior I have ever seen in seemingly rational people. Even the most grounded runner can become profoundly disturbed in the days leading up to a race or on race day.

There are a million different permutations of this, but what I have seen countless times is the complete and utter abandonment of behavior that has served someone well during days, weeks, and months of training prior. If something has served you well historically, why would you suddenly change it? But, deviating from normal, rational behavior is what being profoundly disturbed is all about.

Then again, some might say voluntarily submitting yourself to an act that results in an impact force of 3-10 times your body weight per foot strike is profoundly disturbing.

This could be true. But, the good news is you are not the only one who is profoundly disturbed. There are millions of us out there carrying the torch for the profoundly disturbed. Rest assured you are part of a veritable army of the profoundly disturbed who throw on their shoes and hit the road every day, rain or shine.

No comments: