Friday, May 29, 2009

Occasional chinks in the quixotic armor

Motivation has always waxed and waned--this is nothing new. The veneer of relentless consistency is the product of a never-ending cycle of overcoming malaise through sheer acts of will and reigning in the urges to blaze a trail straight to hell, or at least the injury bench. But sometimes my own sanity starts to creep in and question the whole quest, and then it's really time to worry.
Running makes me happy. It makes me feel alive, strong and fit. Running heals wounds. It is a friend in good times and bad. We runners are so fortunate to know the feeling of running like a deer, of experiencing the natural world around us daily, of truly experiencing the spectrum of sights, sounds, smells and feelings of our environments by being in them, not just near them. I need to remind myself of these things especially when real life starts to spin out of control, like when my job and so-called career start to seem incredibly pointless and arbitrary and I'm torn between the itch to make irrational changes and the pragmatic guilt of being the sole breadwinner for a family of six and at having the gall to wallow when so many around me no longer have a job with which to feel dissatisfied.
So when this happens there's really only one option. As my friend, Jeff, once said,
"For us runners, the question of “why” is pretty moot. Not because it may not be interesting, or important, from a certain point of view, but because we’ve left the question of the meaning of running behind. After all the questions have been asked, and all the answers given, in spite of the disagreement on essences, physiology, rationales, training strategies, trail running, road racing, i-pod wearing, mid-foot striking, turnover cadences, arm carriages, Jack Daniels, Arthur Lydiard, 20 miles a week or 100, 5k or the 50k, whether it's really the Miles of Trials or the Trial of Miles, after all the words have been spoken and keyboards have been pounded, meanings given and ideologies subverted... After all this, we runners bend down and tighten the laces, open the door, brace for the cold and are renewed: another godawful, glorious, and meaningless 8 miler."

My wife said pretty much the same thing just now before she left for the grocery store: "Just go put your running stuff on and go running." And so I guess I will, before it dawns on me that Don Quixote eventually regained his senses...and then died, sane and broken. I didn't come this far to wind up sane, let alone broken.


  1. Sane is too boring. I'd rather run.

  2. Dang! give the man a blog and he gets all philosophical. Hey, you missed a day. Sometimes people even do that on purpose.

    The deciding difference between the broken Quixote and the one who wages tremendous battles with windmills is not a matter of sanity. Quixote was no saner at the end; he had just lost the ability to take pleasure in his madness. Then again, to take pleasure in madness is perhaps sanity enough.

  3. Really good stuff. I'm reminded a little of Yossarian but maybe I'm just saying that to sound smart.

    I will say I nodded in agreement at multiple points during the post so something must have struck a nerve. Saw a fox, ran a race, over-analyzed your life/running....seems normal to me.