Those Who Do And Those Who Don’t
There is a distinction among avid endurance athletes: those who race and those who don’t.
We who choose not to race will cite our disinterest and even disillusionment with racing. “I’m just not competitive.” “I exercise for my mental and physical health.” “I don’t need to pit myself against others to gain benefit and satisfaction from my endurance training.”
We often perceive successful racers as being “type A’s” blessed with good genetics – highly driven, even obsessed with winning.
However, within the ranks of racers, there is another distinction:
On one side are those of us who race against one another for the dominating status of “winner-take-all” – making everyone else a loser.
On the other side are those of us who regard “competition” as a “petition for companionship”, seeking the synergetic support of athletes, volunteers and spectators. In our pursuit of athletic excellence, we choose to inspire and support one another, to collectively elevate ourselves to extraordinary performance levels of experience.
We seek the magic of racing and are more apt to measure the quality of our race performances on the speed we find through grace, intelligence, efficiency and inspiration – rather than “balls-to-the-wall” exertion and sheer mental will.
All of Us Do It
Athletic or not, there is one race that each and every one of us participates in – our human race. Our race as humans is similar to our race as endurance athletes. Some of us race against one another for domination and control. Others of us regard our human race as a petition for companionship – as an opportunity to inspire, guide and support one another to lives of extraordinary quality.
In both our athletic race and our human race, there is “me against you” on one side, “me and you” on the other. To varying degrees, each of us embodies both of these sides. Some of us are more one polarity than the other – just as some of us think more with our heads and some more with our hearts.
Our logical, brain-intelligence analyzes, dissects and separates – creating the “me against you” side. Our intuitive heart-intelligence circulates, integrates and connects – creating the “me and you” side. It is futile and destructive for us to cast judgment on these two sides of ourselves – to condemn one side and make the other righteous.
It is far more promising for us to nurture a healthy relationship between our heart and our brain. In a healthy, functional relationship, our brain recognizes and honors both of these unique separate perspectives – the “me” perspective and the “you” perspective.
Supported by the heart, our brain ceases to operate out of fear and the need to defend the “me” perspective and dominate the “you” perspective. Likewise, our heart no longer rebels in an effort to be heard over the brain’s fear. Supported by the brain’s brilliant skillful means, our heart is able to transform “me and you” into “us”.
In each race – athletic and human – each of us is a unique expression of power, glory and grace – “me, you”. Collectively, each race – athletic as well as human – is a living, breathing and conscious organism, a synergy of all those individual unique aspects – the synergy of “us”! As athletes, we often experience our greatest race performances when we tap into this synergy of “us”.
As the distance of our athletic race increases and reaches epic length, the living connection we share – the “us-phenomenon” – becomes more vivid and more tangible. In our human race, the same is true. The farther we project our intentions, goals, dreams and our commitment, the more we appreciate and tap into the synergetic power of “us” as a human race.
Racing is an expression of power – both endurance racing and human racing. That expression of power includes more than the primal struggle for domination, strength and control. Grace, balance, harmony and efficiency – elements of our effortless power – are far more promising than the misery of struggling for domination and control.
Politics and Power
In our race as humans, we now stand on a precipice in our experience and expression of power.
Globally, when our collective heart and brain engage in a struggle for domination and control, the result is war. One side wields the intelligence and power of cold calculated logic, while the other side wields the intelligence and power of fiery emotional passion.
True pursuit of excellence – athletic and human – begins by nurturing a healthy relationship between our brain and our heart – between logic and passion.
Race With Grace
Training and participating in endurance races – particularly races that are epic in length and difficulty – provide us with an opportunity to engage our third intelligence – the body intelligence – as a mediator to bring reconciliation and harmony to the relationship between brain and heart.
Out of sheer necessity, the demanding challenge of a long-distance race motivates us to bring heart and brain into balance and cooperation to accomplish our goal. Along the way, we gain grace, wisdom and long-term vision that carry over into our participation in the human race.
We begin to realize that we are either all winners or all losers. It’s not how fast we get to the finish line of life or whom we beat on the way; it’s how graceful, harmonious and efficient we are on our journey. This is what brings us enduring happiness and genuine satisfaction.
As athletes, the experience we gain from training and racing prepares us as we transform our human race into its truly epic destination – our planetary race. Either we thrive and prosper as an integrated planetary entity, or all of us perish in our futile struggle for domination and control. So, how do we want to cross the finish line? The choice is ours – NOW.
Originally published in Hammer Nutrition Endurance News, Issue 066, November 2009