Balance Series I (Subjectivity Alert!)

I’m not a huge fan of “moderation.”  Firstly, most people seem use the word to justify some kind of harmful behavior (i.e. eating animal products, smoking, drinking alcohol etc.).  Why not moderately kill you heart, lungs and liver (respectively)?  It’s an excuse not to be disciplined. Moderation is in itself most often admitting that it’s ok to lack discipline about 50% of the time.  I dunno...maybe I’m over reacting.  Of course, I’m not saying that one should never indulge in luxurious treats that may or may not contribute to one’s, and the planet’s, overwhelming longevity, but who’s to say how much of something “moderation” entails and how likely are we to be able to accurately judge how moderate we’re being?  If it is indeed something deleterious we’re indulging in, our brain isn’t going to want to be moderate about it.  The word allows ourselves to excuse poor (only objectively from a health, welfare and environmental point of view) behavior without necessarily acknowledging it as such. If we need to use the word, perhaps we can use it to describe things that are good for us.  “I don’t eat only broccoli, I eat it in moderation.”

 Secondly, and much more to the point: I don’t like it because I’m an extreme personality, tending to go all in on whatever I’m interested in, which tends to automatically put me in most people’s “crazy” column. Now I know I need not care what others think of me, but I do. I’m working on it. Especially since that interest may last a day or a lifetime. Either way, more often than not, if I do something it’s going to be on the fringes of whatever it is.  Take running for example.  In 2010 I discovered running at the age of 25 when lifestyle related lab results came back super abnormal so my answer was to start running (this was before I knew how greater an influence on health nutrition was than exercise - though of course it’s important to exercise everyday as well).  So naturally, Brittney, a lifelong runner, and I signed up for the New York Marathon.  That’s what I’m talking about.  No 5ks....straight into the world’s largest (and I thought longest distanced) race. It went really well and it turned out that I’m pretty well made for endurance.  I’m slow compared to most, but I get it done.  A few years later I found out about ultra marathons.  Instead of starting at 50k, I signed up for the Keys 100 Mile race (a road ultra, flat but stupid hot -105F).  After a year of training, I ran and got 1st in my age group.  Same thing with going vegan.  As soon as I learned of it’s benefits (duh!) and the harmful effects of eating animals, I switched cold turkey (buh duh chick).
Now, three years later, I’m training for my first trail 100: the Vermont 100.  This past Saturday, I ran the Xterra Trail Series - Shepaug race as a training run. The cool thing about this race is that you can run it in varying distances because it is comprised of one large loop.  Run 1 - 25k 2 - 50k 3- 50 Mile.  Naturally, I signed up for the 50 mile distance even though this was my first trail race.  I had no idea of what to expect in terms of trail conditions.  Of course the website makes it seem super challenging and technical, but I thought that was just hyperbole.  NOPE!! It was gnarly.  Because of the big snow storms over the past three weeks, the most recent of which occurring just a few days ago, the first two miles were filled with ankle deep mud and, should you want to attempt to go around the dirt pools, lots of thorny brambles to call you out on being such a wuss.  These trail conditions got a LITTLE better...but most of the 16 miles path was at least “soggy”. There was a 1.5 mile stretch of road at anywhere between 8-15% grade decline (incline on the way up which SUCKED) then more trails until the aid station 8.5 miles in. Reverse. One loop.  

Ok.  This is where I’m leading up to in this little musing.  There is a difference between moderation and balance.  Moderation would most likely mean that I wouldn’t have allowed myself to get to the ultra distance.  If I were governed by moderation, a metric that more has to do with a collective sense of what is moderate, I wouldn’t get beyond 5ks. But balance implies a more personal sense of equilibrium. I love running very long distances. But I balance it out with rest and lots of cross training.  I only run once or twice a week and those are the long runs.  Otherwise I’m doing stairs and strength training in the gym, laps in the pool and some kind of yoga everyday. That’s balance.  Sure, compared with the Standard American Diet, my nutrition seems “extreme.”  I only eat whole plant foods, nothing processed, mostly no oil and very little salt.  But I love to cook so it’s not challenging...and the one restaurant at which we can eat out (Teff in Stamford) is my “treat.” That’s my balance.

I dunno...a lot of this seems like bitching about nothing to me. And maybe it was. But it was on my mind so I put it out there.  Maybe you have thoughts and feelings about it?