Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Preaching and Practicing

"All it takes is all you got." - Marc Davis

   I was on the treadmill yesterday and my thoughts drifted to a friend. I was going to meet this friend for coffee after I left the gym. Our original plan was to meet for pizza. (She is a former Chicagoan. And I would imagine that upon leaving this city, one of the more devastating losses to deal with would be the loss of Chicago pizza.) But pizza was cancelled. Though not because Chicago pizza became any less delicious. It was cancelled because she was at the borderline starvation stage of her seemingly endless cycle of dieting.

   It's a frustrating process to watch. In part, because I know how fruitless and unhealthy that process is. But also because she knows how fruitless and unhealthy that process is, yet she continues with it anyway. However, I've had that conversation more times than I've cared to, and so I just agreed to switch to coffee and I kept my self-righteous rants to myself.

   As I continued to run, my thoughts breezed on through other topics, before eventually settling on my upcoming marathon training schedule. I've been fighting an ankle injury for months. I think that it's more or less healed at this point, but I know that I need to do more to build the strength back up. I need to do ankle exercises on a consistent basis. That kind of stuff is not my strong point though. No part of marathon training outside of the actual running is my strong point. I don't stretch enough. I don't swim enough laps. I should lift weights more often. I should do yoga more often. I should invest in compression socks to help my legs recover from long runs. I should do a lot of things. But I don't.

   And as I thought these thoughts, I began to recognize the similarities between my cycle, and that of my friend. I know what I need to do. I know that doing these things will help me achieve goals that I've been unable to reach so far. Yet I continue my pattern of short-cuts and half-measures anyway. I continue with my fruitless practices even as I preach to somebody else about the absurdity of doing the same damn thing. The hypocrisy is hard to ignore.

   And this pattern exists in other areas of my life as well. In college I rarely missed a good History or English Lit class. But I skipped the hard sciences on a regular basis. Regardless of the knowledge that those were needed for a diploma. When I clean my home, I inevitably stuff junk into a closet or a drawer. Pushing aside an easy task, and saving it for a tomorrow that often never comes. In my private and public life, I often choose to do just enough. Just enough to keep my head above water. Like paying nothing but the interest on an old debt, even when it is within my means to pay it all off.

   Which brings me to here. To this morning. To this keyboard. In just a few days, I will begin an eleven month training schedule. A training schedule that I'm writing out right now. I will run three marathons in that span. The goals are simple. Set the bar high, yet realistic. Train hard. Train smart. Train honest. Skip nothing. Take no short cuts. And cross the Finish Line of that third marathon in under 3:10:00. Qualify for the Boston Marathon.

   Half-measures won't get me there. Nor will excuses. There is no easy route. There is no pushing it off for another day. Either bridge the gap between what I preach and what I practice. Or come up short. Either, or.


  1. I'm looking at the same things in my life, and it really is that simple. Either, or. Not easy, mind you, but simple. Do I want to write and have written, or d*ck around on-line and gotten the fleeting enjoyment from that? Do I want to study wine and food, and do my best to become a captain, or do I want to not put in the time and effort and stay an assistant? There's no judgement here, either way - it's my life. So what do I really want, and am I willing to do what it takes to get there? There's a big difference between saying "I want to..." and "I'm going to", between an intention and a decision.

  2. "...either way - it's my life." Exactly. It's not like my friend has to lose weight or choose a healthier lifestyle. Nor do I have to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Nor do you have to be a captain or write another word ever again. But we owe it to ourselves to ask, "Do I really want this thing for myself?". And if the answer is yes, then stop piddling around and go fucking get it. But if the answer is no, if you're just giving some half-assed effort because of some misguided concept of what you're supposed to be doing, then set it aside, make your peace, and move on.

  3. Thanks for writing these words. I will keeping them in mind as I write my resolution list for 2012 =)