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A Little Bit Won’t Hurt

I am not sure in what deep recesses of my mind the Disney cartoon “The Grasshopper and the Ants” lives, but it routinely emerges from the gray folds of long-term memory at the oddest of moments. Certainly with four year-old and one year-old daughters, didactic cartoon viewing has become more of an everyday staple than it has been since my own Saturday morning cartoon hayday. Still the percolation to the surface of the 1934 classic seems to coincide less with more rampant animation consumption than the necessary reminder of the simple, but substantial, morals the eight-minute tale explores.

Most recently I have been battling the grasshopper’s “evil urge” as I attempt to recommit to my own training and pursue a person-best well past my personal-prime. Though a long-summary of the story is likely unnecessary for every child of the 1980’s, for the sake of clarity the plot is simple. A vagabond, minstrel grasshopper lives a carefree life avoiding work and embracing life’s pleasures while the fastidious ants labor through the glorious summer months preparing for the harsh winter months ahead. (Cue foreshadowing twist!) Of course, when winter hits, the grasshopper is forced to near-death starvation until the ants take pity and rescue him. (Cue moral revelation!) In the warmth of revitalization, the grasshopper sees the error of his ways and promises to embrace the hard-working ethos of the ants.

There are numerous parallels that can be drawn to any challenging undertaking we face, whether it be training for a marathon or budgeting our paychecks. Most recently, I have not been tempted to throw off the constraints of training altogether and pick up my fiddle and dance. But, I have been succumbing to the grasshopper’s appealing promise that “a little bit won’t hurt.” In reviewing my most recent training logs, the cumulative impact of the little bit here…little bit there trap has reared its ugly head. When my plan called for 13 miles, the run amounted to 12. When the day’s plan was 5 miles of tempo, the record read 3.5. By the end of a week which should have totaled close to 60 miles with two hard sessions and one long run, the final tally was just over 50 with what can be best described as one and a half hard sessions and a single medium-long run.

In most challenging aspects of our lives, athletic and otherwise, we rarely cast off accountability completely. We can’t bring ourselves to fully embrace the laissez-faire life of the grasshopper. Instead, the more insidious, but equally destructive fringe of this ethos creeps into our ethic. We “shave” a little here, “cut” a little there, rationalize that something is “good enough”. Only when it is too late, and our ledger is balanced do we see the impact of these “little bits.”

 

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