Sunday, April 14, 2013

Talent and Beauty

I ran 18:36 today in a 5 km race today. Off of pretty much no training. At first I didn't understand it. I have been barely training; we're talking 47 km a week has been a cause for celebration lately. I think there is no getting around the fact that I am talented. Wow does that sound obnoxious to just state that outright but here's the thing, I don't think it is bragging to tell people I am talented. Talent, athletic or otherwise, is something one is born with. It's all all just down to random luck of the genetic draw. How can I be proud of or brag about being talented? It is absolutely not an accomplishment. In a weird way, it has nothing to do with me. It has solely to do with which one of thousands of eggs were released to be met by which of millions of sperm on the day I was conceived. I can't be proud of being talented; I did nothing to earn it. It's kind of like being beautiful (which I am definitely not). How can anyone be proud of being beautiful? How is it even a compliment to call someone beautiful? It's rather just a (somewhat subjective) statement of fact. Again, it's all down to the genetic odds. You're born beautiful or (in my case) not. No accomplishment on anyone's part involved. There are characteristics related to these things which are true accomplishment:

-talented athlete: not an accomplishment; working hard and consistently: accomplishment

-beautiful: not an accomplishment; being well groomed and well put together (which I am also sadly not): accomplishment

-intelligent: not an accomplishment; well-read, knowledgeable or a big thinker: accomplishment

 So what then constitutes talent for a runner anyway? How can we precisely define talent. I have come to the conclusion that it means foremost, the extent to which an athlete improves fitness in response to a given workload. A highly talented runner will improve fitness to a greater degree in response to a given work-out than a less talented runner. That is talent in its purest form. Then it gets somewhat greyer... talent also encompasses the ability of a runner to remain injury free (bio-mechanical talent) one might say, that is also purely random chance and genetics. There is the ability to endure pain and push through when common sense is screaming "slow down"... there I am not sure, is mental talent just genetic (which I firmly believe the other two items are) or is that something of which one can genuinely be proud? i.e. is this a real achievement. I think mental toughness is probably truly something that one achieves as opposed to talent which is just gifted.

Whatever. I am grateful to have the talent to make the minute amount of training I am able to squeeze in, pay some big dividends.