The latest issue of “Runner’s World” says on the cover “BE BADASS!” and I genuinely thought for a moment it was going to have some deep insight on how to be badass: run ultramarathons maybe, or win a mountain race along a razor thin ridgeline, or help soldiers overcome PTSD through running, or skydive from a plane and then run a marathon (yes, that’s a thing!). There are so many ways to be a running badass, but there’s no advice on how to be one.
Of course I don’t blame “Runner’s World” for balking at defining “badass” and providing a how-to instructable for it. Being a badass is totally subjective. Is badass a fashion statement that requires a James Dean moody scowl, black leather jacket, and a motorcycle? Is badass something you earn by running the toughest, longest races over the most unforgivable terrain? Is badass a state of mind of someone who overcomes impossible obstacles to follow their dreams? Is badass facing your worst fears? Or is badass as simple getting off the couch and moving a little more than the day before?
To me epic runners and hikers and athletes are badass because they’re that next level that I want to achieve, so I was a little surprised last week when someone described me as badass. Me? Really? We were around the proverbial office water cooler (aka congregating around one gregarious person’s work station *cough Travis! cough*) and making ourselves sound old by complaining about various aches and pains. I whined about my shoulders hurting from climbing.
"Wait, you mean like rock climbing?" a new hire asked me.
"Like, on a big climbing wall? And on rocks and stuff?"
"Oh my gosh!" She looked like I had just blown her mind.
"Oh yeah! Didn't you know?" Travis interjected. "Liz is a badass!"
I have never been so happy to be labeled something. I've been a nerd, a weirdo, a feminist, a geek, and all sorts of labels that I've worn proudly, but earning that badge of "badass" was a whole new level. Achievement unlocked! (Okay, nerd.)
This is something I've actually been thinking about for a while. How do you go from country girl running laps around an old horse pasture to train for the school soccer team to runner/hiker/biker/climber/yogi/adventurer/all-around-badass? When are you finally "outdoorsy" if you didn't grow up outdoorsy? Sure, I grew up in the outdoors, but it was more "rural countryside next to some cow pastures" than "scaling mountains on a granola bar" sorta outdoors.
So many times the people I aspire to be like talk about their background and how they grew up camping all the time, or skiing with family, or going on long hiking trips in the Grand Canyon or conquering 14ers in Colorado. How do you pursue these interests if you didn't grow up in that community? Call it expanding your horizons or call it social mobility, but there's always a challenge breaking into new social circles or exploring an interest if there's no precedent for it in your life. I've been lucky to have the Internet as a constant source of information and I've collected a ridiculous number of outdoors guidebooks that are now thoroughly dog-eared and falling apart on a bookshelf, but it still helps to have examples to follow. Without an example it's hard to visualize yourself in some faraway place doing some unfamiliar activity. How else do you go from cubicle minion to weekend warrior without a good example?
I don't have a good answer for this. All I know is I just want to keep documenting my journey and my adventures and hope that those stories can be an example for others who want to explore the outdoors when that wasn't a part of their life in the past. The true badasses in my opinion are the people who get back up when it hurts, who keep going with their workout when their muscles burn or who keep running even though their brain says, "STOP STOP STOP!" It's the people who went from couch potato to ultra marathoner, from quadriplegic to Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, from indoorsy to outdoorsy, who really are inspiring.
So this next year, let's all resolve to all be badass. Who's with me?
Note: If you're looking for ways to get fit to be a badass, a new Crossfit gym is opening in Chapel Hill! I'll have more info up on the blog later, but Crossfit Homeward is having a grand opening event all day Saturday with two workouts open to the public at 9:30am and 10:30am. There will also be some free food and some raffle items - check out the Facebook event for more info! https://www.facebook.com/events/1683843575260738/