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When you are the parent of the child with special needs you gain a certain perspective on the concept of achievement. You learn to celebrate the ordinary, the mundane, the trivial milestones, because when you are a parent of a child with special needs, you know that in some cases, the ordinary becomes extraordinary – the words “I love you” passing over the lips of your daughters, a genuine hug of comfort, an extended moment of eye contact – all of these things that we take for granted with our neuro-typical children take on a much greater weight.
When I look at runners, talk to runners, read posts by runners, I wonder if they understand that they too are extraordinary.
Recently there was a bit of a brouhaha online about a certain runner who attempts to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle. Some of the more serious accusations thrown at her aside, one that particularly irked me was that she is just a middle of the pack runner, even slower by other people’s standards – that it was no big deal that she ran 52.4 miles (or 100 for that matter) in one day, that her training mileage was mundane compared to other, “real” ultra-marathoners.
It wasn’t that I felt she needed defending. She can take care of herself. What bothered me was that the idea of running 50 miles in a day, or biking 200 miles in 3 days, or running 40 miles a week was nothing to celebrate because it wasn’t serious enough.
It takes away from the “extraordinary” that every day runners do every day.
- If you get up in the morning and run, you are extraordinary – I don’t care if it’s 3 miles or 15 miles. How many people hit the snooze button and are now “running” late for work?
- If you strapped on your running shoes during your lunch break, you are extraordinary – how many of your co-workers are stuffing their faces with a meatball grinder while you sweat out a quick 5-miler?
- If you put in a short run after work, you are extraordinary – too many people are managing the stress of the day with a bourbon at the local watering hole instead of a run.
- If you prepared for bed with a run after putting the kids to bed, you are extraordinary – how many of your fellow parents crash into their own beds or onto the couch after the kiddies are asleep?
- If you have entered a footrace of any distance, you are extraordinary – how many people have said to you, I wish I could do that.
- If you have run a marathon, no matter what the time, you are extraordinary – you are part of an exclusive club (around 0.1% of the population)!
Runners like Scott Jurek, Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher are all truly extraordinary. Their feats are incredible, but here’s the thing, they obviously have physical gifts that you and I do not have. I am truly impressed by what they are able to accomplish, but I am always more impressed with those of you who live every day lives, working towards keeping a roof over your heads and keeping your children fed yet still manage to find the time to run.
I know elitists exist in any group of significant size – those that believe they are innately better because they are faster or stronger. There are runners that are faster and stronger. That shouldn’t minimize or trivialize the accomplishments of the rest of the community – just like those of us with special needs should not be marginalized or trivialized in society.
Did you, will you run today?
Then YOU are extraordinary. Don’t let anybody tell you different.