Sprinting into the Wind & the Asshole Years
by Jessica Burdg
Warning: This article will not give you warm fuzzies. In fact, it has everything to do with being an asshole, a little to do with running and absolutely nothing to do with loving somebody—besides yourself, which is the most important kind of love. Read to the end, and you’ll see.
I can confidently call myself a runner these days. I enjoy it, and I’m not half bad. Not that it matters anymore if I’m good or not. Ironically, the only time I ever ran competitively was when I was terrible at it, and didn’t care to get any better. That was during the asshole years, which I consider to be between the ages of 16-22.
Let me explain. When you’re that age, it’s perfectly normal to be an asshole. Unfortunately, you just don’t realize it until you get older, look back at yourself during that time and understand. Of course, the level of asshole varies from person to person, but I find it a commonality in that age group (myself oh-so-very-much included, so nobody get grumpy here!). You form relationships with people and things not necessarily based on purity and innocence. You’re surrounded by people who are the same age as you—who are also assholes—so it just happens. You take people for granted — like your parents — and you learn how much you can get away with. Later in life when you tone it down a little, some of that asshole mentality can be a good thing. Let’s call it gumption. When appropriately employed, it can save you from getting pushed around.
Back to running: I was a runner on an actual team during my asshole years, and I wasn’t very good. I’m much better now than I was then—that goes for my running and a lot of other things, too.
Anyway, I set off on a Saturday run recently, not realizing that the wind was about to blow me over at any given moment. I don’t have the most imposing physical stature. I’m a small person, and the wind was blowing 50 mph. Ok, really—I have no idea how to calculate wind speed or even what that process entails. I can tell you that it was blowing pretty damn hard, so we’re going to call it 50 mph for the sake of brevity. And, let’s be honest, so I don’t have to look it up. At times, I felt like I was going to fall over.
So, in true Seger-style, I was literally running against the wind on this particular morning. But, Bob, I’m going to call this more of a sprint. Arms and legs pumping full force, back bent, head down. . . and I was going nowhere. It took all I had to run one straightaway, but I kept going.
I liken this to something my coach from my asshole years used to say (which I completely ignored because I was an asshole): “Use the hills,” he would tell us. “Everybody else is going to slow down or walk them in a race. Take them as opportunities and pass then.”
I think we’ve already established that I never passed anybody. Looking back, though, he was right. If you look at hills, high winds or other obstacles as opportunities, they don’t become so looming anymore. If you change your perception, you can change the outcome of your race.
It may have taken me an unreasonably long time to run the straightaways sprinting into the wind like that, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Your progress is not always indicative of your effort, but that doesn’t mean you should stop moving forward. Even when I felt like I was essentially standing still, I was still making a little progress—and I’ll be damned if I was going to stop. Maybe that was a little of the asshole—wait, gumption—coming out in me.
Here’s the important part: When I finally turned the corner and had the wind at my back, I was flying so fast I didn’t believe my own Garmin. Good thing I didn’t stop when the wind willed me to, or I may never have realized I could go that fast.
***MrsMuffinTop note: Jessica’s post came into my inbox on a really tough day, and I loved the sincere message of her words. I hope this piece gives you the same motivation that it did me!