Worse than the lies other people tell you are the ones you tell yourself. When I’m running I come up with a lot of bullshit that I try to pass off to my credulous self as insight. Much of it undergirds my ego’s need to feel tough and/or fitter than I really am. On some level, maybe these lies are useful mis-directions, stuff you tell yourself to rationalize continuing to move forward, but I tend to think I’m better off dealing with the truth.
So here I’ll give a brief list of the lies I tell myself. Maybe you do this too.
- If I run a little faster, I can finish much sooner. – The lie here is one of proportion. If I run a little faster, I can finish a little sooner. Finishing much sooner requires being in much better shape than I’m in now. What is more interesting than the severity of this lie, though, is the source. What is going through my head that makes me want to stop running sooner? I must be in pain or bored. The funny thing about that is when I’m in pain, mostly I crave boredom, that purgatorial running state where nothing much hurts but nothing much seems to be happening either. Boredom is a good outcome, because it means that nothing else is implying you should stop. Currently, I’m carrying some issues, so it must be the pain that has me hurrying to the finish line.
- I could keep going. – This is technically not a lie, but there’s a silent but missing from it, and a second independent clause that follows. It properly reads, “I could keep going, but I have no idea how far, and really, running until I collapse isn’t on the agenda today.” I have never actually run until I collapsed, and since I don’t have an ambulance fetish, maybe I’d be better off not thinking too hard about how much farther I could run on any given day.
- If I just keep going, this injury will go away. – My body is working hard, most of the time, to repair itself. I don’t help it much. I have a Theragun. I stretch a bit. I cross-train. But mostly I just keep going and let my body deal as best it can. Sometimes, I heal despite my best efforts not to, and because my body does sometimes overcome my baseline stupidity, I fall for the lie that sometimes you can run an injury better. In fact, I get frustrated that my menagerie of aches and pains doesn’t disappear, despite abhhoring rest days and avoiding doctors whenever possible.
And here is the truth: I’m doing the best I can. I’m not an Olympian. I’m not remarkable in any way. I’m getting older. My body hurts in dynamic and ever-changing ways. I’m tired. Sometimes I struggle for motivation. That’s all ok. I get it. It’s part of it. It’s imperfect.
What I’m trying to do, i.e. keep going, need not be performative, doesn’t need judging, doesn’t have to result in anything in particular, doesn’t need to feel good, doesn’t need to serve as an example or an inspiration.
I would be lying to you if I said I had fully internalized and believed all that that truth, though.