Nope, I am not crazy. I know it is meant as a compliment. I really do. And 99% of the time I take it as such. But recently when I have heard it, it began to irk me. Let me explain.
It first started when I ran 52 Marathons in one year. It progressed when I ran four marathons in 13 days, two of those being the Boston Marathon at its regularly scheduled time and then the course again later in the day, followed by one in Korea three days later. Then with my 202-mile solo running of the American Odyssey Relay, I heard it more and more. The problem is I feel the use of the word shows both a lack of imagination and desire to push our limits.
Allow me to reiterate the first paragraph’s premise so it is clear. I know that no one who says that is trying to insult me. They are just trying to state that what I am doing seems a little out of the realm of their comprehension. (OK, maybe some are trying to insult me.) But there is indeed an underscoring of that word that I think is one of the problems with today’s sedentary American.
Why is running 202 miles crazy? Well, because to 99% of people in this country, running a marathon is still crazy. A half-marathon is still slightly insane and an “I only run when someone is chasing me” attitude pervades 290 million people in these United States. So, without a doubt, 202 miles would seem insane, even to many runners out there.
I submit we stop using the word. I admit I have been caught saying it once in a while but I really try not to do so. There is nothing crazy about chasing your dreams. No insanity is needed to wish to push the boundaries of one’s own body. In fact, as I have often said, crazy is sitting at home doing nothing eating crappy food endlessly. Insanity is going to work in a dead-end job while your dreams float away. Pure madness is staying in a loveless relationship when there may be the person of your dreams around your corner. All of those things I mentioned make you a complete and total nutter.
Me—I just want to see if something I would like to do is past my limitations. I already know what I can do. I want to see what I cannot do. So, if you wish to compliment someone because they are doing something which seems either impossible or beyond what you think you can do, find a different word. Or make one up. Or just tell them they are inspiring and you hope to someday chase down your own unattainable goal.
Just drop the “crazy” crap.
Dane Rauschenberg is an extreme athlete, author and speaker. Follow his adventures on his blog, See Dane Run, http://danerunsalot.blogspot.com/