Sunday, January 16, 2011

Life under the Bell Curve

Colorado Staircase

Snow Pack


Green Mountain from Bear Peak Summit

Boulder County to the Divide

Running is one of those sports that we all can experience in a way not unlike the top athletes in the sport. If I hit a softball and can run to first base, in that moment my experience is not all that different from a professional baseball player. If I struck out every time I was at bat or the ball went by me every time it was hit toward me I would only experience the negative. Running is different; as long as I can stretch one foot out in front of the other my experience in the moment is basically the same as a world class runner. It's sad that the experiences people could have are suppressed by their tendency to compare their ability to others, whether it's physical, academic, or otherwise.

Yesterday I ran to the top of one of Anton Krupicka's favorite summits (elevation gain 2674 ft), Bear Peak, the neighbor of Green Mountain behind the Flatirons of Boulder. I ran up Shadow Canyon from Eldorado. There are places I had to power hike and almost crawl, but for the most part when I'm in the zone of choosing between snow, rock, ice for the next foot plant and I'm breathing and sweating surrounded by the forest, it's the same experience. Only when I put him next to me and feel inadequate by immediately lagging behind, do I notice the difference.

Most of us go through life with roughly the same capacities as everyone else. There is the handful that go through life at the extremes under the bell curve and we shouldn't measure ourselves by them; we should do what we can without comparison. Anybody else under the fat part of the curve that we find ourselves competing with should be seen as friends who are helping us to seek our limits and do our best.


  1. Very nicely done, John. Sometimes, I think the comparisons can help, but we have to look in the right frame of mind. If those people at the far end of the curve inspire us rather than discourage..

  2. Right...there seems to be a fine line between inspired and intimidated....a line drawn in our own minds...

  3. Great post John. Amazing scenery you are running through. Living in these parts of the world I really miss seeing those mountains.

  4. Beautiful photos, and nice post. I've always thought that there are those few who are just not like the rest of us (ie. Anton, Olympians, etc). They are simply on a totally different level. Us "normal" folk just can't compare ourselves to them. But we can use them for inspiration and wonderment at what the human body can do when given the right genetics and opportunity. Of course, if you were to talk to most people on the street in any given town on any given day, they might think *we* (as marathoners or ultra runners running 1000+ miles a year) aren't normal :-) It's all about perspective!!