I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is something significant about hair. Whether it is facial or the hair on our heads, there always seems to be some significance to the way we wear our hair. I remember seeing pictures of old presidents and noblemen thinking, “wow they look silly” with their long hair or sometimes wigs. During this time, long hair represented power and wealth, like the mane of a lion. In high school I was forced to shave under the idea that I was sloppy and lazy if I did not. The modern business and military man practices the same discipline. I can relate to this idea. I actually like to shave my head or trim up my beard from time to time because it helps me feel sharp. You know, if things around me are a little chaotic and I do not feel like I am on my A-game, I can go to the barber, clean it up, and feel back in action. It truly makes a difference … at least for me. The flip side is also true. I often have this “great idea” to grow my beard. Once a year I say I will do it and three weeks in, I impulsively shave it off. It is hard to get through those middle stages. When the itches and impulses come, it is easy to run shave it off, feel fresh, feel new and let all those weeks of growth go to waste. This is the part I want to zone in on. This is the part that links to marathoning.
Each year I meet hundreds of people who have this grand idea to run a marathon or PR in the marathon. It is easy to “want” it. It is not easy to consistently wake up and train for it. It is not easy to consistently sacrifice Friday nights for the sake of Saturday long runs. The consistent focus and discipline for the course of 20+ weeks is hard. This is in fact why I respect marathoners. Yes, 26.2 miles is a big deal. However, all the work that goes into preparing for 26.2 is an even bigger deal. I think this is what Lunchbox from the Bobby Bones show doesn’t get. In case you are unfamiliar with Lunch, I will give you context.
A couple of months ago a local radio figure, Lunchbox, ridiculed marathoners on the Austin course and added insult to injury by up and running 26.2 just to prove he could. But that in no way gained him respect by the running community. He doesn’t get it. The marathoner is not a one and done type of person. The marathoner consistently shows up and extends himself. He seeks ascension. He has a goal and he fights for it. He understands a season has ups and downs. He takes the good with the bad and understands delayed gratification. He is not impulsive. He is steady and consistent. Which brings me back to hair. I am growing this beard and growing it long this time. It is not for the sake of long hair. It is to serve as a metaphor for the type of training I plan to do this year.
My race is in December. My training begins in June. I have 27 weeks of preparation. I am growing this beard along with it. A long full beard cannot be grown over night. It can be impulsively shaved overnight, but not fully grown. Being fully prepared for a marathon does not happen over night. I want to race and race well. I want to be better this year than I ever have been before, both as a runner and a person. There is a certain meaning to the type of running that I do. There is a certain meaning to the type of beard I grow. Every time I look in the mirror I will remember what I want in December. Every time you see this beard I hope you are reminded of this too. Not of my goal, but yours. Stay focused. Be consistent. In 20 weeks, it will all be worth it.