My post on Sister Madonna Buder was triggered by Pamela's comment on Dean Karnazes quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days. As a regular reader of Runner's World, I was familiar with Dean and the small, but growing, population of ultra-endurance athletes. Still, one of the quotes Pamela noted was striking:
"Somewhere along the line, we seem to have confused comfort with happiness."
for what it says to me beyond running and pushing physical limits. Substitute the word "stuff" or "food" for "comfort" (maybe in a little auto rotate .gif image) and you pretty much got it covered.
I frequently read a search for purpose and clarity in the stories of these ultra-endurance athletes -- a hunger Americans generally try to satisfy with food and stuff, resulting in near crisis proportions of obesity and consumer debt.
While it's possible to undertake marathoning and have it actually add to the stuff and complications of your life, ultramarathoning takes so much commitment that simplifying and prioritizing life must be essential. There are also few activities as good at reducing mental clutter than a good long run. Hopefully, I can find my sense of
balance* clarity without going to quite the extreme or using superglue on blisters.
*Ed. note 11/12/07: This post was no way meant to imply that running 50 marathons in 50 days was any kind of indicator of balance.