Monday, November 29, 2010

What Comes Naturally

Admittedly, I was one of those students in college who everyone loved to hate. 

I rarely had to work hard to get good grades.  Since I struggled with math and science in high school, I took the easy route in college with classes like Geology (commonly known as "Rocks for Jocks") and Math for Liberal Arts (which we artsy people like to refer to as "Math for Poets").  I double-majored in journalism and English, and found that I had a unique gift for quickly and easily crafting an essay or term paper well enough to make me sound like I knew exactly what I was talking about, even if I didn't. 

I remember coming upon a tough problem in my Math for Poets final, and it threw me for a loop.  When we covered this particular problem in class, we used a whole number, and in the problem on the exam there was a fraction.  Completely unfazed, I wrote "See Back" underneath the problem, flipped the paper over and got to work on an essay detailing how I would solve the problem if it were a whole number instead of a fraction.  I got an A.

When it came to academia, I always just "got it."  However, I always tried to keep a low profile about it.  I didn't want to seem nerdy, or God forbid, a teacher's pet.  But while school came easily for me, running never has.

In the past few years, I've had the great misfortune of meeting a few of running's teacher's pets.  "Oh, I run marathons, but I don't have to train or anything," they've boasted to me, usually while slugging down beers in a bar.  While these particular people were probably lying (my BS radar tends to be fairly accurate in cases like these), there are actually people in this world who possess supernatural running ability.  These freaks of nature can just wake up one day and go out and run a marathon... and while it's impressive, it's also so, so annoying. 

For me, being a distance runner requires lots of time, dedication and sacrifice.  I have to use every variable to my advantage to have a good run.  I make sure to cross-train, I rarely skip a scheduled training run, and I get adequete rest and appropriate nutrition.  But apparently while I'm doing all of that, there are people who go out and run marathons with no training, hungover, and with two hours of sleep. That is so unfair.

Rather than dwell on the injustices inherent in nature that make me have to work hard for what others can do without trying, I'd rather focus on the positive.  My dedication to running has made me a stronger person, both mentally and physically.  I have a lot of tough runs where I just want to give up, but dig deep within myself in order to finish.  A lot of one's best character attributes--dedication, perserverence, endurance--come from triumphing over what doesn't come naturally. When I think about these people who can just go out and willy-nilly run a marathon, I really should feel sorry them.  They don't get to feel what it's like to overcome the agony, soreness, fatigue, and every other emotion that goes into four months of training.  I wonder, does it even feel like an accomplishment when it comes that easily?

You can keep your superhero genes, Dean Karnazes and the likes.  I don't want 'em.  There's so much more glory to be had for us regular folks.


Jamie said...

Those kind of running peeps are luckily few and far between. They drive me nuts. Miss it Mister oh I signed up for a marathon last week my longest run was 4 miles and I ran a sub 330! Gah! There us something to be said about putting the hard work in.

tissygoalie1 said...

Great blog Gab!! We talked about this in depth on Saturday and I couldn't agree with you more! Having the feeling of accomplishment is amazing!! While I can squeak by easily in my spanish class, while taking Anatomy and Chemistry I have to study my butt off! But the feeling of the A or even B on the test makes me so happy!! Keep up the good work and try not to punch out those others out! :)