The traffic was so bad that we decided to get out of the car and proceed the next few miles on foot to the race site (though funnily enough, once the traffic cleared, someone offered to give us a ride the rest of the way). We did our best to avoid Sacramento’s clay terrain, one that mixed interestingly with the rain — a combination slipperiness and stickiness that made it impossible to run on and impossible to keep off your clothes and out of your shoes. I actually scraped my knees and arms on the second obstacle, a wet and dry clay crawl under barbed wire.
But we’d already done this a handful of times. We completed Tough Mudder as a precursor last year. The 13+ mile Monterey Spartan Beast (still, by far, the hardest OCR we’ve done), the short Sprint at AT&T Park, and finally the completion of the Spartan Trifecta at the Sacramento Super.
I can’t explain why I do it. I just love it.
Scott Jurek, arguably the world’s greater Ultra-marathon competitor grew up with a philosophy from his father — sometimes you just do things. Why did he have to do so many chores as a kid when other kids didn’t have to? Why would he push himself harder in over 100-degree weather at over 100 mile distances when his body had given out and when his hallucinating mind was telling him the rocks were smiling? It doesn’t always make sense, but sometimes you just do things.
After reaching a reasonable level of fitness, why push more weight, why do we run longer distances when the last race nearly wiped us out? If we’ve already made enough money to retire, if we’ve already gotten promoted to a position that we can live comfortably with that enables us to coast for the next decade, why shoot for another business goal when it has the likelihood of adding more complication to an already complicated existence?
I do have the sort of philosophy that explains the real benefits of developing simple disciplines, long term habits and the correlation between certain activities that seem to paint a picture of difference between the achievers and the mediocre — but that doesn’t really explain why I push harder when others coast.
Truth is, I can’t explain it myself. I just want to. The status quo isn’t enough for me. If there is a wall in front of me and there is no context or pretext to explain what it’s doing there, my natural reaction is to scale it or bust through it or build my own wall higher than that wall. Sometimes we just do things.
Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to prove someone wrong when they say we can’t do something that we suspect we can if we really tried. Other times it’s a stubborn persistence that defies logic.
Joe DeSena would call it having a “fire in your belly.”
Where does it come from? Are we born with it? Can it be lit in others or merely cultivated? Don’t know.
We just have it. We just do it.
When Jesus spoke in parables, He didn’t spend a ton of time justifying His teachings to those who did not understand or agree. He just said, “He who has ears to hear, let them hear.” Sometimes we have ears to hear and eyes to see, yet we do not see or look as we should. But it also implies that some people just can’t see or understand.
Though there is a time and place for justification and explanation, it’s really the results that speak for themselves.
We don’t necessarily need to justify what we do or why we do it because our actions will speak louder than the words we speak.
Spartan Race has a pretty interesting slogan: “You’ll know at the finish line.”
Personally, I didn’t need to cross the finish line to know I’d be doing these things for the rest of my life. It was similar to the first time I went to a business seminar and met other people of ambition, people with big dreams. I just knew that there existed, somewhere out there, people with similar values — even if they didn’t reflect the vast majority of people I personally knew and interacted with regularly.
There are mission statements, sets of goals and affirmations, reasons listed why we do what we do. They sound good and make a lot of sense.
But the truth is, we just do sometimes whether we understand or not. Call it gut or intuition or fire or inner-knowing.
Sometimes there are things that we just know that need no explanation. Sometimes an attempt at an explanation actually cheapens that which we already know but can’t explain.
Some of us mock, others of us fear, many are confused, but some of us — we just run with it.