My Fake-Cousin Vik just started running and recently posted on Facebook that she was particularly proud of herself for running around her local park once without stopping. Being a runner, of course I hit ‘like’, and I couldn’t help but joke that I was going to sign her up for the LA Marathon next year. She ‘LOL’d’ and wrote that she thought she would die if she did the marathon.
I remember how it felt when I first started running, doing a marathon was not even a possibility for me. There was just no way I could fathom running for 26.2 miles, so I smiled because a few years ago I would have said exactly the same thing.
A few days later, I stated reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown and I thought back to my Facebook banter with Fake Cousin Vic. The books starts with this terrific quote from Theodore Roosevelt:“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; Who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy causes; who at best knows in the end triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”
Brene Brown explains that, to her, this speech is about vulnerability, which she suggests is defined as an individuals realization that it’s not about winning or losing, victory or defeat, but is about acknowledging that both possibilities exist, and still being ‘all in’.
She says we can chose whether or not to play the Game Of Life.
If we don’t want to play, we stay on the bleachers – we’re spectators, we eat popcorn, applaud and maybe hurl abuse at the ref once in a while. Perhaps, to some, it looks like we’re having fun, but at the end of the day, we’re just observers – we’re not participating in the game. The place where the action takes place is in the arena, and if you’re in the arena, then you’re playing the Game Of Life, you’re engaged and ‘all in’ – and sometimes your face is even dripping with ‘dust and sweat and blood’.
This decision whether to play or to observe takes courage.
What I realized has changed in me is that I’ve grown and developed the courage to call myself a runner which is something that takes time, and I bet will change for my fake cousin Vik too.
I think calling yourself a runner, and signing up for a 5k or 10k or half marathon takes BALLS. I mean once you’ve made that decision and told everyone, there’s no going back… you’ve declared to the world or at least the race organizers that you’re a runner and now you have to live up to it.
And whats more, once we sign up, we then have to overcome the ‘what ifs’…
What if I come in last?. .. What if I can’t finish? .. What if I get hurt?
You get them too, right?
Brene Brown says that this is our vulnerability and that “Our willingness to own and engage our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose”.
So every time we race, does that mean we’re engaging and owning our vulnerability? If so, that makes me extra proud to be a runner! It means we lean into that vulnerability every time we enter a race – we face that fear of failure, of not completing. We embrace that slim chance of winning and ‘own’ our vulnerability whenever we pin the race numbers onto our dry-wick t-shirts. We never know what might happen in the race, we might win, we might come in last. We might get horribly injured and have to get wheeled off in an ambulance… but regardless, we’re in the game. We’re really doing it. We’re risking failure, defeat, humiliation and judgement, and every time we finish a race, no matter how well we did, we know that our faces are marred by dust and blood and sweat.
What do you reckon? Are Runners braver than we think?