Albert Camus writes in the Myth of Sisyphus: “The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labour.”
And as I was jogging down Pender Road (at Mount Faber) this evening, recovering in between repetitions of uphill running, I suddenly felt a connection with Sisyphus’ plight.
Going up, then down, only to go up again in a recurring cycle.
However, in contrast with the gods’ design for Sisyphus’ labour, as I reached the bottom of the hill/road each time, I was filled not with “futil[ity] and hopeless[ness]” towards my labour but with hope and a sense that my work would bear fruit come race-days later in the year.
Sure, the work can be uncomfortable, even painful at times. And in those times of suffering in the midst of workouts, all I can think about is just gritting my teeth and getting to the line.
It is times like these I question why I still engage in the routine of training, subjecting myself to the all-too-familiar discomfort.
But, just like Sisyphus, there are recovery periods in between efforts, and those are the times of consciousness, when we are finally able to think again (after the blood has returned to our brains).
And, so, as I jogged down the hill/road with a view to my right of the setting sun and cable cars watching over the evening traffic heading home, the joy of running and training became apparent once again to me, for its ability, to make me appreciate the air I breathe all the more in those times of oxygen deficit and to feel my body in all its synchrony (and asynchrony) amongst so many other things.
Therefore, just as Camus imagines Sisyphus’ paradoxical liberation of himself from his fate through his acceptance and recognition of it, we are able to free ourselves from the discomfort from tough workouts and take joy in the process, for mental liberation goes beyond physical bondage.
“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
I hope my first post on this blog has provided you with some good food-for-thought. This post reflects on what is my second consecutive day of training of my first week of holidays after the exams.
Over the coming days and months, I hope to continue to share with you my running journey — the lessons I have learnt, my struggles, my workouts and more! I sincerely pray that you will find this blog a source of helpful stories in your own athletic and life journey.