Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Betterment for Viper

Every few years, it seems I get on this self-improvement kick. I'll outline a plan for what to do to improve my life. Sometimes these plans stick while other things fall by the wayside. Running was part of my last betterment plan.

Monday's post got me thinking in this vein again. Aside from all the health benefits that running has added to my life, it has also started to change my personality. During my first year, I had a chest-beating attitude about running, as if I were showing off every time I laced up. And that probably carried through most of last year.

However, I have felt a change over the past four months. Running has changed my outlook on life. It has given me clear indication that it is possible to improve myself. And it has taught me humility.

Improvement is quantifiable with running. I can see it in how my body looks. I can see it on the scale. I can chart my distance and my speed. Conversely, I can see what negatively impacts my running, and avoid those things. As I study my running, I can see areas that are lacking and formulate a plan to address those shortcomings.

Humility has been a tougher lesson. I think Americans have a serious problem with humility. We're a boastful, arrogant and self-righteous people. Forget the national scene, I see these qualities everyday in the people I know and love. I see them in myself. It sickens me.

Losing teaches you humility. Let's face it, if you're not breaking the tape, you're just one of the many losers in the race. This is by no means an effort to discount the races any of us have run. Racing is tough. I don't care what distance you're training for. But running has a tendency to show you how good you're not.

As a non-elite, there has to be something more to racing than pace and place. I think that something is in self-discovery.

Last year was a pretty ambitious year for me. I completed my first and second half marathons and my first full marathon. I was pretty ecstatic about my first half. The second was pretty much a repeated performance, but I was extremely disappointed in how I did. The marathon utterly smacked me in the mouth.
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
--Samuel Beckett
These disappointments and feeling of failure took some time to recover from. I'm a firm believer that you have to learn from failure. The lesson was humility. Now that I've tasted it, I want more. I think humility is the path to becoming a better human.

Humility. Humble. Human. All are rooted in similar Latin roots of "humilis," meaning lowly or meek; "humus," meaning ground; and "homo," meaning man. These words and their meaning are fundamentally linked.

Improvement and humility have helped shift my perspective. Having a visible indicator of self improvement gives me faith that I can enhance other aspects of my life as long as I try. Humility helps me be less of a jackass. And that's better for everyone.


Van 1- Hall said...

Love the blog. Two of my greatest passions in life combined into one blog! I just wrote about Makers Mark in my last blog.

Laura said...

I just ran my first half-marathon last weekend, and am going to do my second next weekend. It will probably be a repeat performance, but I am determined to do better. We'll see!

Upon hearing that I was running in the race, my aunt asked my mom if I was going to win. I really wish my mom had replied "No, a Kenyan will win. Laura will be one of the 5,999 losers."