I have always been a very competitive person, often to my detriment as I thought I needed to beat the snot out of everybody standing in my way to victory, whatever that particular victory was at the time. So when I saw this shirt with an iconic logo on the front and the words “Me Versus Me” on the back after about a year of running I had to buy it. Running began to change me, not just the rotund mound of fun I had been, but also the ultra competitive person I had been. Hearing things like “way to go”, “keep on going”, “you got this” from fellow competitors who were urging me on instead of trying to trip me was almost mind-boggling to me but I was really starting to love it because it was showing me just what this t-shirt was saying, running is about me versus me. Me pushing me to run longer, run faster, train harder, eat better – me versus me, the new me versus the old me, the active me versus the lazy me, the compassionate me versus the beat you into the dust me – and I was really starting to like the new me.
“…..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us….” In Hebrews we see the Jesus follower life pictured as a long distance race. We can’t drop out of the race but it’s not a life exemplified by how hard we beat somebody, but by how hard we train our body, our mind and our spirit to run the race of life. At the finish people will look back and see not the “check you into the boards” ultra ass but the person who encouraged them to pursue their dreams and then ran with them every step of the way to the finish line of life. If I can train my body to run 50 miles in half a day surely I can take that same mindset and train myself that in my business I am not competing against the competitor down the road to put him out of business but competing against myself to constantly provide better service, better products and better prices. In my marriage I am not competing against my wife to see who is smarter or works harder but to be her help-mate and encouragement, to find ways to draw her to her dreams also. We can apply me versus me to every aspect of our life because it forces us to look into our own lives and find ways to improve instead of constantly finding ways to criticize outside our lives.
Living an ultra life means that me versus me becomes more than a slogan but becomes the cornerstone of constantly striving for improvement.
I had ear surgery last month. It was to remove a bone-eating cyst that was chomping on my hearing bones, but I almost cancelled it when the surgeon told me I had to take six weeks off running. I was like, “SIX weeks? I’ll die!!!!!” I knew it was for my own good. I sort of do like hearing other people when they talk, instead of constantly saying “Huh? Speak up!” Unfortunately, this didn’t make taking the time off any easier.
As I near the end of this six-week torture, I am already planning my come back! I will ease back into the miles, instead of piling them up the first week. Coming back from any kind of injury as a runner is always difficult because we want to do more than we probably should. But I know, if I do it smart, I will be even better at what I love doing.
Imagine if we could do the same thing in our “normal” lives, to wisely come back from our momentary setbacks, instead of letting setbacks limit our future growth. What if, instead of letting defeats, failures and setbacks define us, we began to define our setbacks as a new beginning, a comeback to a greater life?
Paul said “….be made new in the attitude of your minds; and put on the new self, created to be like god in true righteousness and holiness.” Our minds are fertile territory and we are in control. Begin to take control of what you will allow your mind to dwell on. Be smart.
Living an ultra life means coming back from setbacks, better than ever.
When I was road running I never encountered one of these strange phenomena. Just as you’re kicking it down a trail, really making fantastic time, you find that some crazy person put a switchback, a 180-degree turn in the middle of the trail, and then to make it even more fun he put a whole series of these crazy turns into the trail. I never realized why these switchbacks were built into a trail until one sloppy, rainy day I missed the trail and ended up bush whacking down a mountainside. Don’t ask me why I thought it was a better idea to try to go straight down than to try to find the trail again. Perhaps it was momentary insanity. As my body slid down the side of the mountain, collecting pounds of mud, I dearly hoped there were no cliffs ahead, it suddenly dawned on me why switchbacks are built into trails. It is a way of slowing you down so that gravity doesn’t pull you straight down the side of the mountain and off a cliff.
Life has switchbacks also, these crazy 180 degree turns intended to slow you down as you plummet down the trails of life. We tend to view these switchbacks as a deterrent to us getting what we want, and we curse the people who put these into our life or are we cursing God?
“Life is not always perfect.
Like a road, it has many bends, ups and downs, but that’s its beauty.”
– Amit Ray, World Peace: The Voice of a Mountain Bird
If we believe only the straight road is beautiful, we will struggle with life. If we venture out into this wonderful adventure knowing there is a reason for the switchbacks, life can be better enjoyed for what it is.
Living an ultra life means that you enjoy the switchbacks, aware they are life-savers.