We all fight ourselves to some extent. No matter the odds, the abilities of the people around you, or the struggles caused by outside influences, the biggest enemy you face on a daily basis is that voice inside your head that tells you that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not young enough, not tough enough. That inner voice is compelling and very influential. Even those that walk around you, strutting as if they have the world figured out, struggle inside. Don’t let them fool you. The ones that push themselves to be first in every race are fighting the demons inside them telling them, as Ricky Bobby would say, that second place is the first loser.
My biggest obstacle in training, losing weight, racing, is myself. I have a hard time letting go of the past, of letting the failures of my youth not affect the present. It is a hard thing to do for me. I relate everything to the past, to the point that it affects where I am now.
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. ~ Buddha
“Maybe I should push a bit harder on this run?”
“Remember last time you pushed hard and got injured?”
“Maybe I should apply for this position?”
“Yeah but it’s all politics. You probably won’t get it anyway so why bother?”
“I really like this person!”
“Yeah but every time you fall for someone they crush you in the end. Protect yourself.”
What results is a shell that you start putting around yourself for protection. Even if you don’t think it is there, it is. I have been doing a lot of self-reflection over that past few years and have discovered this shell. Especially emotionally. Something that happened in my past hardened me to the point that I am just recently discovering how deeply the damage actually is. I know I come across open in these pages and in the podcast, but in many ways, I am closed off, especially to certain subjects. I have taken playing Devil’s Advocate to the point that even those closest to me have no idea what my true thoughts are about politics, religion, relationships, etc. I always take the contrary side, even if I agree with the person I am talking to. I really don’t know why.
For some reason, anyone taking a stance that they know everything and there is no other answer irks me, and I have a hard time walking away from it. This is true in normal life as it is true in training. Take the nutrition example for instance. Tons of data is out there showing that carb loading pre-race does nothing for you and actually can hinder your performance. They are actually putting this information in magazines and books. So why are there still so many coaches telling people to do this? Is it arrogance on their part (“to Hell with science. I know what works!”)? Is it just an unwillingness to accept that something they have done for years is actually wrong? Does it come down to just not being able to admit you’re wrong? Maybe all of it?
“It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body. And it’s lonely because you feel you can’t talk about it. You feel it’s something between you and the body. You feel it’s a battle you will never win . . . and yet you fight it day after day, and it wears you down. Even if you try to ignore it, the energy it takes to ignore it will exhaust you.” ~ David Levithan
I am not as black and white as people accuse me of being. I just don’t discuss certain things. And to be truthful, there are things that are asked of me that some want a black and white answer to, that to me, is not black and white. For example, when I am asked if I believe in God. That’s a complex question to me. It is not a simple Yes or No, at least not in my mind. The simple answer, the black and white version that people want when they ask me that is “yes, I believe in God”. The more complex, and one I won’t get into fully here is “do you believe in a God that sits in heaven watching us and judging us and when we die takes us all into his kingdom for eternity?”. The black and white answer to that is “no”. But like I said, it is more complex than that to me.
So, even at the ripe old age of 55, I keep fighting this war inside me, this World War Me. The difference in this war than all the others is the only casualty is me.
I am the only enemy.