“Pain only hurts.” This is a quote by ultrarunner Scott Jurek’s Norwegian cross-country skiing coach Glen Sorenson, and it’s also the title of the 4th chapter in Jurek’s book ‘Eat & Run.’ I started reading it yesterday and, to use a really well worn cliché, I just couldn’t put it down, but it’s the truth. Only having to go to sleep rudely intervened in the most delightfully engaging 1-on-1 conversation I was having with this slab of inked paper.
Hmm, I feel a really long run (or two … maybe three?) coming on really soon so that I can begin to fully reflect on everything thing I’ve read and which has fired my brain up to a degree I haven’t felt for quite sometime. Just a few more pages to knock off now this morning. Sometimes you just get exactly what you need when you most need it. Anyway, I can already see how Jurek became who and what he is today. The principles explained in Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ just fly off the pages, including the effects of people, places, socio-economic status and upbringing. The conditions for his success were, just like a certain well known cereal brand, just right. Of course he had to still add the essential ingredient of himself to make things happen. The seeds of his own strong personality, desires and iron will still had to be planted into this suitably fertile soil. It seems he just got really lucky with it all as he himself alludes to the fact that he was mostly unaware of what was happening to him in the early formative stages and why.
One thing that certainly played its part in Scott Jurek’s development and ultimate success as not only a legendary ultrarunner, but also as a good human being, was the mantra his tough love father had kept pushing down his throat from an early age - ’Sometimes you just do things’ - meaning that it is often necessary to do many things that we don’t like, as the value of life isn’t really just about whether we like or want to do certain things, but also a matter of what our duty to life, others and ourselves is. Jurek refers to the Japanese warrior concept or code of Bushido as a way to explain this state of mind and way of being and behaving. It is something that he has used with great success during his gruelling ultrarunning training and racing, especially when things got tough (which they inevitably do in ultrarunning!) and he felt like quitting. The end result? Well, how about magic?! Someone quite ordinary became someone super extraordinary because of a serendipitous combination of elements with the injection of some well-focused personal hot sauce. Ok, that’s a tribute to the Beastie Boy’s MCA, which I’ve being trying to find a way to sneak into a blog post for a while, but you get the picture?!
“I think every person has the ability to effect change. Every one of us affects the world constantly through our actions. Through our every word, the way we interact with other people, we’re constantly affecting the world.” - Adam Yauch aka Mr Hot Sauce himself, MCA of the Beastie Boys, 1964-2012.
For me, Jurek’s story, along with those of many other outliers, begs the following question. Can each and every one of us become extraordinary in something in our lives if we can just find or create the right conditions into which we can add our own true desire to become the best at what we love? Can we all become outliers in some way in order to fulfil our duty not just in life, but to life? I certainly want to believe this to be true and I’m going to do my best to prove it, even if only to myself. Otherwise, why the hell are we here?