I thought about this for a while, and even though at the time I drank coffee and beer a few times per week, though almost never at the same time, I decided I wasn't addicted to anything I ate or drank, and I don't think I consumed enough of anything for it to do damage of note. I decided that my only addiction---at least among habits and things I do---is running.
It's more an addition to pride, but that's another post altogether. The point is that quitting running is, for me, not really a possibility. I didn't run for eight weeks at the end of last year, but then I had to start again. I've gone longer periods of time running just two or three days per week, but that's still regular running, and I could still crack 16 minutes for a 5k. But as soon as I got served on a silver platter, I was back in the saddle, looking for my next quick fix.
Running is healthy, right? It's not a vice, is it? Considering that when I'm seriously training, I spend at least one week per month extremely tired and some degree of sick, I'm not too sure. And then there's the time I could be spending doing any of my other hobbies. That bothers me to think of everything I could be doing: how many books I could have read, how much I could have written, how good I might be at playing the drums, or what kind of fun stuff I could have gotten into with my friends.
But those are the sacrifices we make as runners. About 20% of our waking hours are dedicated directly to the sport, and the rest of our time is planned around it. Runners earn a lot of respect with their ability to make sacrifices for one end: not to sacrifice The Gift. It's a noble cause to chase our bodies' limits and our athletic dreams, or is it? My running doesn't help anybody but me, at least not like being a doctor helps people stay healthy, or like teachers educate youngsters. It's merely another pursuit of ego, like Ultimate Fighting Championship or a beauty contest, or a social event, like a keg party or a trip to an amusement park, nothing more. A man is not great because he chooses to forego a lifestyle, a career, or any of life's pleasures to become the fastest runner he can be. He may become a great runner, but not a great man. With the exception of those runners who feed their families with prize money, all great runners became great for one reason: themselves. Call it pride, desire, will, ego, narcissism, ambition, whatever you want; it's all the same.
I don't want to tear down our sport, I just have this welling feeling inside of me that we should stop holding our performances and sacrifices on a pedestal, and recognize running as a narcissistic, hedonistic pasttime that can be enjoyed with others and feels good when it's over, like sex.
That being said, I enjoy taking names, bashing heads, cracking skulls, digging deep, dropping the hammer, rolling out, and unwinding my wound-up speed on anybody who chooses to race me. And that's what I'm going to keep on doing, when I can. But I'm not going to look at myself or anyone else like I would look at Mother Theresa simply because they got 120 miles in last week. That's your choice; this is my choice; we're all after the same thing.
Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.