Monday, February 1, 2010

Why do you do it? (RANT)

I get this question asked of me a LOT. Usually this phrase encompasses other facets of the conversation. Which usually are: why do you run so far, in the heat, in the rain, on the remote trails with bears and cougars (the cat type). Usually the question comes from a relative or co-worker.

So why do I “do it”, for a variety of reasons. The one reason that sticks with me the most when I’m asked is the experience of the moment(s). Good run or bad, finish or DNF, I take something away that enriches my life beyond the norm.

We get one life, why waste it on what I would call a “vanilla” existence. I want to be the competitor, not the tourist. I don’t need to be the best out there, just out there experiencing it. I’ve learned from both the good and bad runs, races. The bad experiences usually teach me more about myself and life than the good. You have to admit having a bad day or running in crappy weather is character building.

To me your world view is all about personal perception. I find that if I did everything in life when it was dry, 70deg, no wind, etc. I’m not really experiencing much in life because I only want to try when it’s easy. To me my perception of the world is narrowed. The next thing I know I’m like everyone else. I complain when the world is not perfect or I won’t try unless I can do well, or look good.

You know the people I’m talking about. The ones who have a melt down because their 5 pump, dopio, Venti Carmel Frappa high calorie $5 drink is not 185deg. Is it really that big a deal? Not to me because I’m going out onto the trail in the wind, rain and mud for 3+hrs with a group of people with smiles on their faces.

Don’t get me wrong I like being comfortable. I’ve just found if you never have any adversity in your life, or put yourself out there you’re missing out.

My DNF this past Western States was a very unique experience. I would say I remember more about my DNF than my finish in 2007. I’ll admit I don’t want to experience a DNF again, but I learned a lot that day. For one I have never felt so depressed in my life. Believe it or not I think that DNF gave me profound physical and mental experiences most people wouldn’t even consider in their vanilla lives.

This goes with another aspect of why I “do it”. Goals, I think we all need them, large or small. If you have a “perfect” vanilla life how are you going to know if something is wrong or out of wack?

The DNF has motivated me to be a better runner and try harder. The goal in life now is to have another go one day and have a better day. How sweet do you think that finish will be after having a DNF? I know it will be because I think about it. That goal alone makes the hum drum days at the office go by no problem.

Another reason I “do it”, stories. I love sharing life adventures with people about what they’ve been up to, whatever it is.

But normally while at the ubiquitous BBQ/potluck/mixer (sucks to get old) excitement is the new iPhone app or the new show on HBO.

What motivates me nowadays runs with my 50 mile training group. They are all newbie’s but they all want the experiences, good and bad that come as they train for this intimidating distance.

Ok so this was going to be a post about recovery and the mental game. But I got the. “Why do you do” question this morning and I started to ramble/rant in my brain. I feel better now that I’ve written it out, but it’s a bit jumbled. Hopefully this ramble is not taken the wrong way, but it’s my blog and it was cathartic.

A sticker I’ve had for years sums it up pretty well:

“I’d rather be a racer for a day, than a spectator for life”



  1. Well said Coach!!! I agree with you whole heartedly and I think the whole group enjoys your take and your attitude each week. You visibly love what you do and believe me that is contagious!!!
    PS: If Charlie heard there were cougars out on these remote trails (the NON cat type) he might be a trail runner too! LOL :-)

  2. The only cougars I've seen are at Karen's Bakery after the runs.

    Good posting, Blurry Nikon! I've been getting that same question a lot, so much in fact, you almost don't want to tell people what you are doing!

  3. I'm with you Coach. Agreed...for me it's about the goal, the challenge, and asking for more from myself. Anthony, I always find your advice to be timely and insightful and I love your attitude and spirit. You keep the experience light and fun, and we really need that during these challenging runs. Keep up the good work! Life is short. Just say NO! to Vanilla! - Hawaii Mark

  4. I thought your name was Mike :)

  5. Just back from San Jose teaching. Thank you all for the posts, too funny Garmin. I'll see you all tomorrow at the hill.