Friday, February 10, 2012

Ego and Ambition...and Ultrarunning

Posted to the Ultra List on 25 Jan by Dana Rouche, who makes an excellent point on understanding why we decide to do things.  My comments follow at the end.

Deb, while reading this thread, I am reminded of one of my favorite pieces about running which took me almost 40 yrs of running to learn.  While planning your 100 mile run barefoot, make sure you spend time really understanding your reason for doing it.

From the Zen of Running, 1974, Fred Rohe

you can be victimized
by your imagination
if you imagine yourself
astonishing your world
with your progress and prowess.

we know this mechanism as Ego.

we know this state as Ambition.

being Great Runners
is not the attainment we need.

it is self control.

without it, ego forces us into ambition
and the price of ambition
is pain.

let's not be egotistical,
let's take it easy.

I can freely admit that at least part of the allure of Ultrarunning for me is the reaction of astonishment that I get from more sedentary folks about my ability to run vast distances.  Now, we Ultrarunners don't think of it as a big deal, it's just a predisposition and skill set that we came with and/or cultivated.  But to the uninitiated, it's kinda superhuman. 

For me, for maybe many of us, Ultrarunning is perhaps the single area in my life that I can confidently assert that I really KNOW, can be looked to as a sort of expert, and am comfortable in defending my opinions.  I'm a quiet sort of person.  In most other areas of my life I am rather deferential, seek to stay below the radar, and above all else avoid controversy, since I am a terrible arguer.  I can't think well or quickly on my feet and just stay away from that vulnerability.

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