Years ago when I first started competing in triathlon, I began to realize things were different. Friends and family looked at me differently, they were also questioning my sanity on a daily basis. Many otherwise friendly conversations went something like this. “What did you do this weekend?” “I ran in the Milford sprint triathlon, I came in near last place but I had such a great time.” “What? Are you, crazy?”
During this time, I heard many synonyms of the word “crazy”, it increased my vocabulary exponentially, but no matter how this question was presented I never knew how to answer. I felt it was totally within my character to push myself beyond my physical limits into something new, therefore, the question of my sanity took me by surprise. Feeling quite sane, I often pondered the question, for hours on end, trying to solve the riddle. Could my passion for working out and triathlons be a little crazy, or did the questioner simply misunderstand my past time? I began to wonder if the question was absurd. Finally, one day my Mum asked me the same question, but in a different form. Mums do not like to think their children insane, so she asked me. “Why? Why are you doing something that others perceive as crazy?” I found that question rather easy to answer, and in doing so I became totally enlightened.
In those early days of triathlon, I was looking for change. Change is hard. I felt that if I could change while having a good time the distraction would make it easier to adjust to that change. I was correct. I now believe, I am not alone in thinking that near 100% of people in recreational sports are looking for change. They want to change their health, change their weight, change their core of friends, change something about themselves in a positive way and sports, especially running and triathlon, provide them with all of those opportunities. Success and change come about, in the words of Deepak Chopra “with progressive realization of worthy goals.” As for comments and the “are you crazy” questions, he goes on to say that “self power is independent from the good and bad opinions of others but responsive to feedback” (you are personally immune to flattery and criticism). I totally agree with this philosophy, and have adopted it. Although, I find it extremely difficult to be personally immune to criticism, or flattery, but I really try.
I feel as if, over the years, I have changed even if some things around me have not. I have moved on from triathlons, to ultra running and adventure sports, but the one thing that has not changed over time is that, at least once a month I still field the same old “are you crazy?” question. Now that I have a better understanding of why I do the things I do, the reply has become simple. Here are a few responses I have formulated, and now use as a canned reply, to “are you crazy?”
I am just trying to change while having a good time.
I am just trying to meet new like minded people.
No, I like when my family is proud of me.
Nope, this just seems like a good way to keep healthy.
I like to think my thoughtful replies have changed lives along the way, because I have seen another interesting thing happened. Many of my early detractors have found a love for running, triathlon and ultra sports too. I guess they want to be crazy too.