Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Shit Gladwell says

Here is an interesting choice for an introduction to a collection of endurance running stories: Malcolm Gladwell wrote the forward to a book called Why I Run, edited by Mark Sutcliffe. Gladwell reveals his run-loving self peaked at age fifteen, which is tragic but typical. This book is about people who did not give up so easily. Perhaps Sutcliffe meant Gladwell to play the part of devil's advocate. Below are some excerpts I find quite revealing:
I remember my [high school] coach asking me if I liked running, and I was utterly bewildered by the question. I had won, hadn't I?...that was always my answer.
to this day [I] regard races at lengths greater than ten kilometers to be acts of lunacy.
Hockey players don't wonder whether they like hockey. Of course they like hockey. Hockey's great virtue is that it is inherently likeable. Running is not.
that a fully grown adult can go out and run continuously and happily for 45 minutes is something that - every time I do it - never ceases to astound me. [emphasis mine]
There you have it. Gladwell has lived his life thus far with idea that running is about winning, not inherently likable (unlike hockey) and doing more than 10k of it is crazy. I worry about this guy. Is he surprised to learn there are people who run for more than the empty promise of a gold medal? Does he really believe there are no hockey players who participate solely due to peer (or parental) pressure? As a teenager did he never meet a single high school runner who said they would rather run than play other sports*? Can anyone besides Gladwell live with this level of naïveté? I suspected Malcolm has spent most of his life playing catch up with the rest of the world; he admits now, at last, that some individuals (including adults) actually enjoy running. Once again Gladwell's writings reveal to me a man young at mind, old at heart.

*I, for one, hated as much as pick-up hockey as a kid but liked running since I was 14. Hell, I liked it before I even knew I liked it. It was necessary to run in the off-season during my cross country skiing days, so at first I resisted running because it sounded like an order. But for me it sure beat playing hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball,...
I understand that other people love these sports, and can even see why as I watch them play. To be surprised that not everyone thinks the way you do is, well, true lunacy.

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