Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Good Enough"

This phrase has taunted me for lengthly portions of my life. Am I good enough? And for whom? Or for what? And what does it have to do with my running?
For whatever reason, I grew up never believing I was good enough. Maybe it was growing up in a very wealthy city and never being one of the wealthiest. Maybe it was attending private catholic schools. Maybe it was the influence of society, family, and community, and maybe it was something internal that I was born with. I'll never know. I've dealt with it in more ways in my life than I care to elaborate on it, but it wasn't until just recently that I realized how it affected me as a runner.
When I started running I was 10, and did it because my dad did and my brother did. Perhaps I wanted to be included - to be part of something. And maybe I was given a pat on the back - some attention for it - so I kept doing it. Somehow in there, it became natural for me to think that the faster I was, the more attention I'd receive, the better I was. Faster meant 'good enough', it meant acceptance, it meant that I was somebody special. And slower soon came to mean I wasn't 'good enough', wasn't worthy of being accepted, and wasn't really anybody of significance. For many years it became a pressure to succeed, exceed, excel - to keep getting better, or face becoming stagnant - slipping back and becoming nothing at all. My identity became and still is: 'I'm a runner'. There have been times in my life where I didn't recognize or accept myself if I wasn't running. I wasn't good enough. Years of therapy taught me to realize that I can be somebody simply by my existence. My therapist always wanted to know what I was running from. Although I hated the question - because I thought he was wrong and I just liked to run - I hated the answer even more. I was running from myself. One day I finally had to retrain myself so that I could be good enough for me and to run for myself and not to prove anything to the world at large.
But I still feel this need to run fast, and have a fear of what will happen if I don't. I've honestly never tried it. I faced having to live up to other people's expectations - what I thought was family, society, community excpectations of myself. Now I'm dealing with my own expectations. I still expect myself to run fast. But why? Why can't I just go out and run a marathon and enjoy it and not feel the need to race it? Millions of other people do it, why not me? If it's okay with me, if it's 'good enough' for me, then nothing or no one else should really matter, should it . . .

8 comments:

Josh said...

There are a few people who have asked me what I am running from. Perhaps the better and more optimistic question is, what are you running to?

Bob said...

I agree with josh, also don't read Simon says Run today or the article he links to. :)

D said...

You are an awesome marathon runner and you seem like an awesome person who I would love to meet. We all have our demons and reasons for being the way we are and doing the things that we do. I admire you.

iliketoast said...

Good to me it is matter of contrast ... for there to be good, there must be bad.

Taking this further what is a bad runner?

A bad runner is one who never gets out the door but could.

Therefore, D is right ... you ARE awesome!

JustRun said...

I feel like I could have written a lot of these words. I think, like Josh said, you can shift your thinking and decide you're running to something instead. Somewhere though, I guess running will always be an escape for me but I'm not convinced that's 100% bad.

I also agree with d, you're a great runner and I'd love to hit the road with you one day. Then you'll have to run slower though because I am not fast. :)

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Take a leap of faith...why not? What is there to lose? I say take the deliberate choice of running slow for your next one; make it an experiment :)

I like your post.

stephruns said...

but does it make you feel GOOD when you run fast? if yes, then what's the point of running slow?

Sarah said...

If running fast isn't fun, than try it slow. But if you're enjoying yourself, why slow down?

How about a trail ultra? That should slow you down a bit. : )