In my ongoing weight loss/fitness/health journey I’ve always been challenged by running. I never liked it and I was never particularly good at it. Even in my younger days when I was a competing athlete I found other ways to up my cardio (drills, jumping rope, etc.) rather than run.
In my early thirties, at the bottom of my life thus far, I was edging over 300lbs and sat in my doctor’s office. My knee had started to hurt so much and often that I couldn’t enjoy a day at a theme park or a fair outside. Randomly it would pop and leave me couch bound for a day.
My doctor gave me the facts. Lose weight or get surgery.
As terrified as I was of the running monster, the surgery monster was worse.
I had to get special shoes designed for heavy people to start moving in. I started off walking/jogging for 45 minutes. Then I would try to get farther in that 45 minutes. I then set a goal of doing three miles when I ran.
Three miles turned into a 5k’s. 5k’s turned into 10k’s. Two years later I am running a 10k every Sunday just to stay on top.
Then came the half marathon.
This week I will be running my first marathon. A little more than 4 years after facing knee surgery I am going to run a full marathon. 26.2 miles.
The thought occurred to me. Why does that matter?
It is an achievement. It’s damn hard. It shows exactly how far I’ve come in so many ways.
Would it be the same if I ran 25 miles though? Who decided that 26.2 was the distance to run?
Yes, I know the history… not my point.
It is a standard set by a community and determined as “hard”. The respect of others for this distance makes it an achievement.
In a world that pushes judgement aside and rejects shaming, I am telling you that there is value in the respect of others.
Yes, I did the work in private. Daily, watching my diet. Being disciplined to work and train and make decisions. In a way the race is already run in all the work I’ve done.
But it’s not. It’s not until I officially run it. Until I run the distance and do the deed. Achievements matter.
When the world tells you that you need to understand and have compassion for the underachiever, they’re right. However, understand and compassion won’t help them and it certainly won’t help you.
Having bars to reach for is important, and you are not a bar to yourself. Yes, beat your best records. Be better than you were yesterday. Being your best self is the point of this site (expect for some fun).
But as some point you need to stop competing against yourself and overcome something or someone outside yourself. You will need to be tested.
I can say I ran a marathon at 25 miles, but I didn’t. I can call a marathon 25 miles but it’s not. Is 25 miles hard? Yup. Is it a personal best for me? 100%. Is it an achievement? Sure. Is it a marathon? Nope and it never will be.
Think back to the movie the Matrix. What if Neo stayed in the training program? What if he jumped that building again and again… sparred with Morpheus… but he never rose to the challenge the world… the system outside him set. Remember what Morpheus said about the Agents?
Morpheus: We’ve survived by hiding from them, by running from them. But they are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys. Which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them.
The world has standards and sooner or later you (or if not you, someone) will have to fight them.