Friday, 6 April 2012

Competition and Purity

Things have happened recently which have cemented certain views I have been pondering for a while. The net result is that after the London, in a couple of weeks, I'll not be doing anymore racing for a while. This may be until the cross country season starts again in October. It may not be till next year. It may be never. This will not be of any great interest to any runners whom I will not be competing against, unless they have more than a slight interest in philosophy, as my lack of presence from any start line will hardly cause hysteria. It is an effort to clarify in my mind what I consider to be need to establish purity in my running.

Running is essentially a pure activity. That purity lessens when commercial interests enter the equation. They tell us this shoe/ outfit / gel / sports drink is needed. When people are told they need things, then people begin to think they need things. To make things pure, I need to remove myself from this pressure.

Running and most sport is geared towards performance, but performance is only a component. The winners of this summers Olympics competitions are those that run fastest / throw furthest / jump highest. What if the winners, given the golds, were those who most enjoyed it regardless of position? Of course, most have been conditioned to enjoy it more, the better they do. Is this not against the original ethos of the games?

Racing troubles me. The importance of performance troubles me. Why do the governing bodies plough so much money into getting a select few to perform, rather than the many to enjoy. Many will say they enjoy racing, enjoy a challenge, but why can't the ethos of non competitive activities ,such as yoga, be more widely applicable to running. Why can't people take pleasure in knowing they can run faster / further, without thinking they have to test this out in a competitive environment?

Racing presents challenges to me. Firstly its a financial drain. I begrudge paying money to run. Instead of paying £20 to race a half marathon, I would now prefer to measure out my own course, if the desire is to find out how fast I can run. On purity grounds I am seeking to rid myself of this desire.

Secondly racing nearly always involves travelling. I'd rather get up on a Sunday morning and go out running from my door, or run to meet friends.

I'm not stopping running. On the contrary, my love continues to grow. But, for me, it has to be an amalgamation of the physical with the spiritual. Racing , for me, detracts from that spiritual.

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