Man, life’s a trip, isn’t it? Actually, I guess it’s more of a journey. Trip implies something leisurely. Sightseeing. Feeding the pigeons in the park. Snapping some photographs. But journey: that’s quite a bit rougher around the edges. When you embark on a journey, you gotta be a bit scrappy. A bit intuitive. Ready to embrace negatives and positives alike. To take the “life as a journey” down a notch, we could go so far as to say running a race–be it a triathlon, a marathon, a half, or even a 5k–is a journey as well. Training for an endurance event is certainly a journey. A learning process.
I’ve noticed something lately in the vernacular of racers: somewhere along the way of their training (or is it post-race?), an athlete goes from calling the event the half marathon to my half marathon. At some point, an athlete takes responsibility–ownership, if you will–of their race. In fact, they possess it. The half-marathon becomes part of their being, their existence.
I doubt that noting this transition is a novel concept. But what interests me is this: at what point, exactly, does one take ownership of their race? When does one accept that they are on a journey, that there is something happening in them physically, mentally, spiritually, factually?
This reminds me of the fact that I do not ever refer to myself as a runner. I say that I run. But I do not take ownership of my running. Others have called me a runner, but I do not see myself as such. Running and I coexist together, but I have yet to truly claim the title.
Interestingly, I almost never refer to the races I have participated in as mine. The lingo I use is, “When I did the marathon” or “During the tri.” Despite having completed those journeys, those chapters closing, I don’t call them my own. There is a detachment. Is this referencing positive or negative? Am I just as engaged in my activity if I don’t call it my own? Is this simply a piece of my personality, or is it a deeper consideration that has to do with how I connect to physical activity?
As I write, I’m reminded that I call the soccer team I play on my soccer team. My team. Mine. What is it about the team, about soccer, that I can claim? Is it because I have played since I was a child, whereas running is new? Is it because it’s a journey I have accepted as being fulfilled?
Running is not how I get from one place to another; few, if any endurance athletes are using their training as mode of transportation. Instead, running or biking or swimming–training in general–is a process. It’s a journey. Training is not about Point A to Point B; it’s about what happens in between. When I run, it’s for me and only me. Yet it’s not mine.
Which all leads me to wonder: Am I letting myself fall down the rabbit hole, or am I running down the sides full steam ahead? And moreso, does ownership matter as long as I keep seeking where I’m going? As long as I’m fit, healthy, and very much alive, does any it matter how I relate to running?