Yes, items such as this seem to always bring me back to this passage:
Quenton Cassidy’s method of dealing with fundamental doubts was simple: He didn’t think about them at all.
These questions had been considered a long time ago, decisions were made, answers recorded, and the book
closed. If it had to be re-opened every time the going got rough, he would spend more time rationalizing than
training; his log would start to disclose embarrassing information, perhaps blank squares. Even a self-made
obsessive-compulsive could not tolerate that. He was uninterested in the perspective of the fringe runners,
the philosopher runners, the training rats; those who sat around reading abstruse and meaningless articles in
Runner’s World, coining yet more phrases to describe the indescribable, waxing mystical over the various states
of euphoria that the anointed were allegedly privy to.
On the track, the Cassidys of the world ate such specimens alive.
Cassidy sought no euphoric interludes. They came, when they did, quite naturally and he was content to
enjoy them privately. He ran not for crypto-religious reasons, but to win races, to cover ground fast. Not
only to be better than his fellows, but better than himself. To be faster by a tenth of a second, by an inch, by
two feet or two yards than he had been the week or year before. He sought to conquer the physical
limitations placed upon him by a three-dimensional world (and if Time is the fourth dimension, that too was
his province). If he could conquer the weakness, the cowardice in himself, he would not worry about the rest;
it would come. Training was a rite of purification; from it came speed, strength. Racing was a rite of death;
from it came knowledge. Such rites demand, if they are to be meaningful at all, a certain amount of time
spent precisely on the Red Line, where you can lean over the manicured putting green at the edge of the
precipice and see exactly nothing.
Anything else that comes out of that process is a by-product. Certain compliments and observations made
Cassidy uneasy; he explained that he was a runner; just an athlete, really, with an absurdly difficult task. He
was not a health nut, was not out to mold himself a stylishly slim body. He did not live on nuts and berries; if
the furnace was hot enough, anything would burn, even Big Macs. He listened carefully to his body and
heeded strange requests. Like a pregnant woman, he sometimes sought artichoke hearts, pickled beets,
smoked oysters. His daily toil was arduous; satisfying on the whole, but not the bounding, joyous, nature
romp described in the magazines. Other runners, real runners, understood it quite well.