Ease and Value

I read something, recently, about how we are a culture that equates ease with value.

I think that is generally true, and I am very guilty of it myself.  I tend to think: Easy = Good.  When I struggle through something, or something does not come naturally to me, I must be bad, or dumb, or, heaven forbid, stupid or lazy.

Take, for instance, me with running.  I do a lot of running, but I am not a good runner.  Or at least, this is what I say in my head.

I am a 13-time marathoner.  I have run marathons all over the United States and the world.  Running does not come naturally to me, but I train pretty consistently.  I have only been running long distances for about 4 years, and have still managed to cram in a lot of experience in that short period of time.

And yet, because this does not come easily to me, I think I am Very Bad at it.

So I make a lot of excuses for myself.

I ran the New York City Marathon last weekend with an impinged torn labrum in my hip, with the kind of pain that was waking me up in the middle of the night.  Sickening, sweaty pain — the kind you get when you can’t get your body to stop hurting.  The pain had been going on and getting worse for about six months, and yet, I’d run five half-marathons on it, all over Europe and the Eastern Seaboard.

I ran NYC almost an hour slower than I ran it in 2011, and I’ve been beating myself up over it.  I have been running the race over and over in my head — thinking: What could I have done better?  Why am I not better at this?  Why didn’t I train harder, or devote more time to this training? 

What did I do wrong?

Why isn’t this easier?

These are stupid questions, by the way.

Aside from the stress, and angst, and fear of having had my brother stuck in Los Angeles with a mad gunman loose at LAX and all flights out of Southern California in shambles the Friday before the Marathon (which obviously impacted my race), the main thing here is that I still managed to FINISH this race while (stupidly) running with the kind of injury that would’ve sidelined most people.

And it wasn’t easy.

But we live in a culture where we value “natural athletes” and “underdogs” — but we beat ourselves up over our own legitimate accomplishments.  We don’t give ourselves room to succeed or enjoy our own successes.  We convince ourselves that we are illegitimate, or frauds, or not real something-or-others, because we are not fast enough, or this enough, or that enough, or natural enough.

In other words, we equate ease with value.

For me, I realise that is probably never going to be easy.  I can work really hard at it, and it’s probably always going to suck a little bit.  No matter how hard I work, I’m never going to be super fast.  I have learned, recently, that my hips are rotated at an angle that makes distance running comfortable, but that makes me injury-prone.

Depending upon how you look at it, I am, quite literally, not a natural runner.

And that is Okay.

Because I like to run.

And as I deal with this injury and recovery, I’m going to take it all as a reminder that the value is in the enjoyment; the effort; the journey through the activity — not in the ease of reaching the finish, since I have a feeling this will be a long road ahead.

Throughout the month of November, I will be posting stories of change, gratitude, forgiveness, and grace — both my own words, and the tales of carefully selected guest voices.

1 Comment

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  1. I think you are the greatest runner in the entire universe. You are an inspiration and an awesome run buddy. I will have to train hard for the “Magic Race” next year.

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