Respect, humility, thoughts and prayers go out today as we all remember the incredible tragedy and inspirational stories of this day 10 years ago. I is true, we will never forget.
On to todays post! I woke up insanely early today (4:30am) to walk 2+ miles to the Potomac River to join about 4000 other athletes in the 2011 Nations Triathlon (the swim was cancelled thanks to the crazy flooding from the storms over the last couple weeks). I finished the 40k bike and 10k run in 2 hours and 10 minutes. I struggled with being passed by so many at the start of the bike, but after looking into my prep for this thing, I chose to just enjoy being out there, sweating alongside so many others on such a wonderfully sunny day. But my struggles, and my complete lack of interest in taking the even as seriously as I know I should have got me thinking about who I am as an athlete. You see, in the past 3 months I have biked a total of zero times (besides commuting, which I guess is a pretty good amount…), I ran no more than 4 miles at any time, and I swam twice. I then drove out to the Virgin Music Festival where I hung outside rocking out to music for about 8 hours, got home at 12:30 am, got to sleep at 1am and promptly woke up for this race.
Now, there’s a little part of me that thinks, “oh man, I am so cool, I can just do whatever I want and show up to fitness events and do a respectable job”. This is the elitist, bad ass CrossFitter in me… But then, the actual intelligent side of me comes out and asks: what the hell are you doing man, why don’t you take anything seriously?”
I struggled with this all day today, and I have decided to just let the floodgates open here on my blog about my confused relationship with sports.
For my entire life I have been pretty damn good at anything active. I could play pretty much any sport at a highly competitive level, I adapted so well to exploring and just being human. As I grew up I found that the one sport I loved the most, baseball, was all I really wanted to do so I focused all my attention on it. No joke, I carried a handwritten note in my wallet everywhere I went, written by my mother, that read “what did you do to make yourself a better baseball player today?”. I would commit to do something every single day of my life that I though would make me better at the sport I loved so damn much. This incredibly focused attention to baseball led to my general success at two division 1 colleges and then 1 year of pro ball in Europe and two in America. It also led to me viewing baseball as the mist important thing in my life. Over girls, school, and sometimes even family.
When baseball was over for me, it only took me about 4 or 5 months to find something new to dedicate myself to completely, marathon. I trained for my first like it was nobodies business; I never missed a training run, even if it meant running at 1 in the morning. My goal was to run a sub-4, and that’s what I did. Then, I was challenged to run another one and that is exactly when the Josh Courage so many of you know became the Josh Courage I am. I fee as though I sometimes define myself buy trying to figure out what I can and can’t do physically. I ran 10 more marathons that year, along with a 50-mile ultra, along with continued powerlifting, basic CrossFit training and for 4 months out of that year, and extreme diet that I would NEVER recommend to someone running a marathon every month. Since then I have done like 4 triathlon, 5 or 6 CrossFit competitions, got into jiu-jitsu, yoga, climbing and exploring. Shoot, if two weeks ago you challenged me to try stand up paddle boarding, I would probably be out racing by the weekend!
I am really good at all these things, but I do not excel at any. And the crazy thing in my mind is that I am really good at all these things while never really putting the attention and effort I put into baseball or that first marathon. I have created such a psychological need to do freaking everything that I don’t allow myself the ability to ever see how good I could be at any one thing. And every time I tell myself that I am going to focus in on a program, it lasts about a month and then you’ll find me out giving something else a try. And if you’re super close with me, you’ll probably hear me talking about this new challenge in my life and all the crazy ideas I have for incorporating it into my life. I swear, I must challenge myself to some crazy event (pre-existing or invented by me) every 4-5 days.
So why can’t I focus on just one? Why, if I am supposed to be some sort of expert at health and fitness, do I have such a hard time committing myself to any sot of program? Well, I think it’s two things: curiosity and fear. The curiosity speaks for itself I think. I mean, I LOVE fitness. So, if I’m on the Internet and read about SealFit, I want to do it! Or, if a buddy of mine tells me about a triathlon coming up next weekend, I want to do it! And when I try out surfing for the first time and I feel really good, and have a blast, I want to do it every weekend and see how far I could go! I have a never-ending curiosity about what I am capable of doing. Fear on the other hand is a little more confusing. What the hell could I be scared of if all I ever do is attack any challenge with no fear? Well, as strange as it sounds, I might be afraid of success, afraid of failure, afraid of commitment, and/or afraid of losing my curiosity and drive to continue to challenge myself. Being afraid of success just doesn’t make sense to me, but it’s not the most far-fetched idea that I wouldn’t know what to do if I all of a sudden was at the top of my field at a specific sport. Would that mean I wouldn’t have the time or ability to do and try other things? This actually ties onto my last point there: if I am so successful at a sport that all I can do is focus on that, would I not only lose my ability to try new things, but also the desire? Yeah man, I am scared of that.
Fear of failure is pretty common. On the surface I am in no way at all scared of failing. I actually love it as it itself is the strongest challenge out there. Failure challenges you to keep going, get back up and try again. But I think this goes a little deeper I think. Perhaps the idea of getting myself to be at the highest level of a sport brings out a fear failing at that level. If I finish in the top 20 at the CrossFit Games Regionals, I don’t have to deal with making it to the actual Games, stressing out about wanting to win the whole thing, and then dealing with potentially failing there.
This idea is SO damn hard for me to even write about as just an idea. I passionately hate that this exists in me. I hope it’s just a little because the idea of excelling at something is so appealing to me.
To be honest, I don’t really know what else to write about with this one. Just writing that idea above has left me completely lost in thought about how to figure out if this is actually going on in my head. I wanted to write about the idea of being scared of commitment, because I think there is a pretty decent part of me that is with all this fitness stuff. But I can’t seem to organize my thoughts enough to get those points down on paper. So, that being said, I hope this little stream of consciousness inspires some serious self-thought about what and why you are doing what you are doing. If you want to truly be successful at anything in life, you NEED to understand exactly what it is you’re doing. Take the time and think about these things, be honest, be BRUTALLY honest and see what happens.
Never Stop, GET FIT.