Spectacularly ignoring the irony of being, himself, a fictional correspondent, Ernest Runaway levels his keyboard at the scourge of our time; Fake News. From deluded tyrants to ambitious climbers, it's a phenomenon that threatens to devour us all.
We are surrounded by fake news. It swirls around us like a soiled nappy caught in a breeze. It is peddled to us from every newsstand and every news site. Acres of paper and *whatever internets are measured in* are given over to this foul stuff.
But luckily I am here to tell you how to spot it. And once you know how to spot it, you begin to see it everywhere.
Now let me lead you to the light.
Think back to the last time you were reading about a first ascent or watching coverage of a sporting event and think about the post-event interview; how many times did the athlete, still sweating and panting from their victorious exploits, say something along these lines:
“Yeah, really pleased thanks Gary. I’ve been going well in training but I think its all down to upping my training from three minutes a day to four, that’s what made the record possible.”
“I’ve been a solid 7a climber for years but ever since I started doing these six easy exercises, I’ve been smashing the 9thgrade.”
“If it was that easy, we’d all be Adam Ondra. But we’re not are we? We are fat and lazy and have tennis elbow and shitty knees”
Yet look at any “Health” Magazine, website or Youtube channel and you will see this kind of dross.
6 Easy Exercises For A Killer Core
3 Minute Workout To Destroy Your Parkrun PB
2 Simple Tricks To Guarantee 8a Onsight
If it was that easy, we’d all be Adam Ondra. But we’re not are we? We are fat and lazy and have tennis elbow and shitty knees.
This idea that we can shortcut our way to performance is, frankly, disgusting. It is insulting. It degrades the achievements and sheer hard bloody work of those that ascend above the norm. Those that dedicate their lives to training and punishment to push the limits of their bodies and their minds. And you won’t achieve that with 7 Easy Steps To Monster Quads or whatever shite it is this week.
If we could all achieve physical nirvana through these quick fixes, then the entire coaching, personal training and sport science industry would be on its arse. But it’s not, and for the same reason you won’t see any professional athletes wearing compression gear or downing protein shakes; because they don’t work.
If you are naïve enough to believe you really can revolutionise your uphill skinning technique by doing some half squats while the kettle boils, then you really do have an issue. Yet they continue to spew it. Polluting the airwaves and fibre cables with this drivel.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000-Hour Rule, observing that to truly master something, you need to log 10,000 hours (funnily enough) doing it. So what happens when you take this rule and apply it to the average bullshit workout pushed by these charlatans; “Do this 4 Minute Workout Once A Day For a Guaranteed Killer Half Marathon PB”?
Don’t worry dear reader; I have done the sums so you don’t have to. It gives a total of 450.959 years to achieve mastery.
451 years of bullshit. Entire Empires would rise and fall before you had even taken your first steps. It’s this kind of unthinking, line-of-least-resistance mentality that is crumbling our species. Tummy tucks, lipo, diet pills, big cushy running shoes, e-bikes. Snake oil, all of it.
“It hurts. It’s meant to hurt. The hurt is good. The hurt is what makes you different”
It’s all desperate shortcut seeking. And people hate to be told there is no shortcut. There is a presumption that throwing enough money at something will make it easier but there are things in this world - big things like mountains and oceans - that will never shrink, no matter how much cash you flash and no matter how many sloppily executed lunge squats you do in your kitchen.
We’d all love a silver bullet but there isn’t one.
Sorry but there isn’t.
Want to climb E5? Get climbing then.
Want to run a sub 30min 10km? Get your shoes on and get running.
It hurts. It’s meant to hurt.
The hurt is good. The hurt is what makes you different to Brian and Sarah in HR, the hurt is what makes you spit and cry alone at the side of the road while your lungs implode and your legs buckle. The hurt and the spit and the tears and the sheer fucking menace of a hard session is exactly what you need and exactly what that lot out there are missing. If you start looking for ways of avoiding it, yet want the same outcomes, then you are nothing less than a fraud.
Earn your turns, earn the view and earn your beers. Don’t expect to swan in and take the glory, with your Instagram filter and none of the hard work.
You will fail, you will shit your pants, you will mess up and you will get injured but then the nectar that flows once you clip the chains, reach the summit or make those turns will be all the sweeter.
Those seconds of glory (minutes, if you’re lucky) like liquid gold flowing through your veins; flooding you with an ecstasy that only comes after the months and years of effort. They are a fleeting delight and you will chase the next and the next and you will only get that hit if you’ve earned it.
So next time you see a headline that seems to be too good to be true, do yourself a favour and don’t waste your time, even if it is only 6 minutes.
Ernest Runaway boasts a mountain CV to make even your grandmother weep. He has raced and climbed all over the world with several FKTs, FAs, FFAs and many FFSs to his name. In the interests of safety his identity has been protected. Some of the names, places, events, facts, opinions and words have been changed and/or fabricated, because we can.
You may find his earlier work here, here and here.