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Out There: Moderation? No Thanks

Running doesn't reward restraint. Embrace boldness and let others take the middle of the road.

“You know everything doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing game, right?”

My brow crinkled quizzically. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Colleen sighed, exasperated. “You’re so extreme about everything. You’re either swearing off sugar for a race or buying a dozen cupcakes afterward. You’re rehabbing an injury or you’re training for an Ironman. You have to be the very best at everything—the best runner, the best writer, the best wife—and if you’re not, you won’t stop until you get there. Everything has to be epic with you. Why can’t you be happy in the middle? What about moderation?”

I shivered at the M word: Moderation. To most people, it’s an amiable word: moderate weather is lovely weather; doctors advise eating and drinking in moderation for good health; moderators keep the peace in times of debate. Colleen, my common-sense good buddy, is moderation personified.

But in this runner’s personal dictionary, moderation is a dirty word, wedged between “G.I. distress” and “nipple chafe.”

Moderation is the guy who saves all his money for a rainy day, only to die of a heart attack before he can spend it. It’s the girl who wonders what would have happened if she had moved away from her hometown after high school. Moderation means stepping back from the precipice—sure, it’s safe, but you miss the best views.

Moderation, in a word, is boring.

I don’t know too many runners capable of practicing moderation. The sport attracts driven, extreme personalities—the ones who want to be the best at everything. We want to find out just what we’re capable of doing, and won’t stop until we get there. From entry blank to race day, once we’re in, we’re in all the way.

As it should be. Meb Keflezighi didn’t win the Boston Marathon by dampening his fire. Deena Kastor doesn’t shatter records by taking it easy—even in her forties! PRs don’t usually happen in a comfort zone. Finisher medals aren’t engraved with “Yay, mediocrity!”

When we get those medals and set those records, it feels good to know that all those hours on the track and the refusal to miss a workout were worth it. When we run to the highest elevations, we inhale the sweetest air.

“Everything in moderation” may be safe advice, but who decided safe was so great, anyway? Boring people, that’s who. Don’t let that be you.

So go ahead: Turn your dial all the way to the right. Dive in head first. Absorb every last drop of what you love, and ignore the people who try to ration your enthusiasm. Run until you discover what’s waiting for you at your finish line.

It’s sure better than whatever’s in the middle.

****

About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke