Writings by a younger, less handsome man who shares my name

Olympians do super human things, but they aren’t super human.

Sure, they can push themselves harder and longer than the rest of us. Lance Armstrong’s heart is about twice as strong as mine. At rest, his beats 32 times per minute while mine is in the high 50s.

This means that during a sprint in the Tour de France, when his heart is exploding at 200 beats per minute, he’s pushing blood and oxygen through his legs with twice the force of my heart when I’m maxed out on a soccer field.

He could make a fool out of me in any test of physical endurance. And he’s 38 years old.

But here’s what he can’t do. He can’t train his body not to scream in pain when it gets tired. He can’t train his mind not to consider quitting when his body is broken and hurting like hell weeks into a race.

His body obeys the same rules mine does. It breaks and hurts and gets so tired that it tells him to stop. So does his mind. It tries to rationalize the easy way out. It tells him that it’s okay to slow down. Everything will be fine.

Changing the world is an Olympic sport. Building a movement, disrupting a market, fighting injustice, reforming politics, redefining art – these are as grueling as winning the Tour de France, physically and emotionally.

They make you feel tired, hurt and broken again and again. They make your heart scream and your mind protest that it’s okay to stop.

Every time you say no, I’m going to keep going, your heart gets a little stronger.

It learns to carry you a little farther before that pain and panic roars back. It learns to recover faster, requiring less time nursing your wounds.

The difference between Olympians and everyone else is not that they don’t feel pain and panic, because they do. It’s that they want something so badly that they are willing to feel pain and panic as the price of admission. Sometimes everyday.

Being an Olympian is a choice, and it’s not for everyone. It’s a choice to endure intensely human pain to achieve super human things.

That’s why Olympians are worthy heroes. That’s also why the world desperately needs more of them.

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  • http://www.howcanidomore.com Jordan

    Love the idea here. I've long been thinking about the habits of superstar athletes, and would love to one day interview them and talk about their daily regimens. Fascinating, and a great read Blake!

  • http://www.blakejennelle.com Blake Jennelle

    Great idea, would love to see those interviews when you do them!