This Is Your Life

I did an interview yesterday afternoon with a woman writing a book called “Extreme Sports / Extreme Jobs.”

As I told her, I don’t consider myself extreme. Occasionally stupid and sometimes stubborn, maybe. But extreme? No. Still, I’m happy to talk about myself. So I did. For forty-five minutes.

The tricky thing about trying to draw parallels between running marathons and triathlons and my career is that it’s tough to separate out the lessons and values each provides. Growth and development is like spaghetti. My interior life, my career, my music, and my athletic pursuits are all processed in the same place: my brain. And lessons are completely transferable. So it was a strange conversation.

Example. She asked me how running the marathon relates to, say, a busy period at work. Like, say, The Video Music Awards, or releasing a new record. Do they require a similar mindset? Similar goal orientation? Similar training?

The primary difference between running twenty-six miles on a Sunday in November and working at The MTV, is that, in racing — since I don’t stand a chance of beating the Kenyans anyway — I only have to worry about my own limitations. My limitations are two-fold: the voice in my head (I characterized him to her as The Brat, or The Kid, but I’d also call him The Addict), and the pain in my muscles. At work, in contrast, and, for that matter, in every other facet of life — love, family, friends — relationships are at play. Other people’s limitations — lack of vision, crushing fear, anxiety — has a bearing on my ability to succeed. I can manage up, and over, but I can’t do it all alone.

Which is one of the reasons I love running.

That said, learning to overcome my limitations — to persist, as I repeatedly said to her — is 100% applicable to everything that I do. And it is in racing that those victories are most apparent. Most races are simply a question of pain management. What can you endure? And how? My most successful moments of endurance — my 3:56:17 in the 2002 New York City Marathon comes to mind — have found me calling on the strongest and most positive forces in myself and my life to pull me through. Scratch that: the push me through. Did it hurt? Yes. But I found a way through that pain by thinking about all my strongest and weakest friends alike, and drew lessons from both.

I could go on — and I did — but as I told the author, I don’t want to overstate it. I crap like anyone else. I pull on my jeans in the morning. I like ice cream and beer. And I love sitting on the couch watching TV. I’m not extreme; I just like to stay busy. I like to grow. It energizes me. It keeps me motivated, and happy.

It works for me. This is my life. I’m who I want to be. Or at least I’m becoming who I want to be, one footfall at a time.

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