Lately I’ve been reading that endurance sports are detrimental to “good” health, and as much as I’d like to say “aw what a bunch of horse crap,” I guess I reluctantly agree. I say reluctantly because it seems impossible to conclude that the negative effects of endurance sports outweigh the positives: for example does the positive self-image and nutritional awareness that comes with the completion of an Ironman outweigh the physical toll the race takes on your body? It’s also inaccurate to generalize: for some endurance sports may be a big mistake, but for others, those who have been blessed with a high tolerance body and a tough mind, going long isn’t just ordinary it’s necessary.
Really I think it comes down to the difference of living versus being alive. I know it’s cliché but life really is made up of moments; searching a rock face for the next hold, wondering if a snow bridge was going to hold my weight, standing on the beach at 6:59 before an Ironman, or meeting my son and daughter for the first time, these were the moments in which I was really alive. Just existing on this planet for 102 years isn’t worth a shit if you don’t get off the couch.
A life of comfort isn’t worth living. This statement seems paradoxical in an age where comfort is king. Advertisers try to convince us that being uncomfortable is bad: smooth out the ride, take the easy way; endurance sports are the polar opposite. Endurance is to endure: endure pain, endure fright, endure monotony, endure your dark side. Endurance is also to overcome: overcome pain, overcome fright, overcome monotony, overcome your dark side. Nobody finishes the Ironman as the same person who heard the canon go off at seven AM.
A friend once asked me, “why does everything you do have to be so hard?” I do hard things precisely because they are hard, what is easy isn’t lasting, what is easy isn’t worthwhile. Perhaps endurance sports are bad for my health, but I’m willing to take the risk as I feel the pros outweigh the cons.