Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The commitment

I have always been perplexed by people who say they aren't good at commitment. What does that mean, exactly? Is it really possible to go through life without truly committing to anything?

It's possible, I suppose, to avoid full commitment but I don't think it's realistic to do so forever. When I think about commitment, my thoughts always drift back to running. In preparation for an upcoming marathon, I have been running 26+ miles a week; and it's only going up from here. As you can imagine, this commitment has begun to dominate my life.

Running can be exhausting, from a physical standpoint. More than anything, it takes a exorbitant amount of my time. My life, even. I have to carve out hours of my day, time and time again, to run. It takes my time, it involves preparation and it makes me want to take a nap nearly every moment of every day. It draws me to bed early every night and up out of bed at ungodly hours in the morning.

I invest my hard earned dollars on expensive clothing, overpriced performance gear, and I find myself on a never ending quest for the perfect combination of foul tasting energy supplements, food, and electrolyte-laced liquids to fend off pending exhaustion, weight loss, and dehydration. I push my body as far as it will go, and when it pushes back I just push harder. I use stretches and massages and gadgets to fool my body into obeying me for just one more mile or just one more run.

On my 'off days' I push harder still, with yoga and weight training to avoid boredom and injury. I watch as my toenails turn black and my legs become more muscular with every long, punishing run. I laugh as jaws drop and eyes roll at the mere mention of a 14 miler. I watch the Olympic Games from the floor of my family room with two dogs in my face, arms propping up my body with my leg perched atop a bright orange foam roller to fend off a pesky IT band injury.

So, why do all of this? Well, because running is a lot of things but after all the noise is stripped away, it's really just about commitment. I do all of these things because I made a commitment--monetarily and mentally--to run a marathon. Despite all the negatives, it is a worthwhile investment of every last thing it requires of me.

I am deeply committed to a lot of places and people in my life, but running ranks up there with the most meaningful of the bunch. I wholeheartedly love running and it's partly because it's not for everyone. Running requires a lot of you, clearly, but more than anything it involves your willingness to sacrifice and commit yourself without reservation. And really? That's what life is about, too. Let's be honest: marriage is pretty much the same way. Running is just part of the metaphor.

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