Wednesday, May 30, 2007

practice?!?! we talkin' 'bout practice?!?!

i don't want anybody ever thinking that triathlon is it about single-minded obsession with training. it is...and it's not.

training is fundamental to learning how to complete, much less race, an athletic event as demanding as triathlon--especially if you've never done one before. it involves commitment and dedication, sometimes to a degree you have never done before. but once you do it, you'll realize it's just like anything else of value in life, and hence not anything more demanding than the act of living itself.

i don't want people thinking that training is ever easy. sometimes it is...sometimes it's most definitely not.

training is about improving your capacities and developing your skills, and just as equally about expanding your perspective and increasing your expectations. in order to do this, you must break through self-perpetuated limitations on your life--physically, mentally, spiritually. this can be quite painful. it can turn out to be the most difficult thing you've ever done. but at the same time, once you've done it, you'll wonder how you never did it, or how you could have ever been the person you were before.

i don't want people thinking that triathletes are sadistic, self-absorbed, obsessive sociopaths with no other thought in their minds than to train, eat, train, sleep, train, work, train, shower (or not), and train some more. they are...and they are not.

as a triathletes (or any athlete)--especially at elite levels--you have to tolerate discomfort in order to push yourself to the level necessary to overcome a challenge. sometimes, in order to deal with the biggest challenges, this means more than just tolerating discomfort; it means embracing pain. and embracing pain means having to live with suffering...a state that is not natural to the human psyche, and something that requires effort by the human spirit. this is something that invariably blurs the border into an apparent attraction to pain, self-obsession, and anti-social behavior. thing is, once you've overcome your challenges (especially the biggest ones), you'll invariably find yourself humbled, and greatful, and more resolved to making the world a better place than anyone who's never been through what you've been through could ever hope to understand.

i do, however, want people to understand that triathletes are just like any other athletes, and this means that they are human. and being human means being capable of realizing the greatest qualities of humanity, as well as its being vulnerable to its lowest foibles. the implication of this is that as superhuman as many triathletes appear to be to the average person in overcoming nearly unimaginable distances, triathletes are in reality just as tortured by the temptation to be simply normal and either quit or avoid those distances.

trust me, sometimes you wake up and the last think you want to do is to get your rear end into a gym, or a swimming pool, or on a bike, or on a track or running trail. sometimes you just don't want to do anything other than just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling and watch tv and eat and read and then sleep some more. sometimes you just don't want to anything at all.

and every triathlete has had the moment when they've just wanted to chuck the sport and hang it up and go home and get fat (well, okay, maybe not that) and lazy (well, yes, most definitely that).

and every triathlete, just like every other athlete, has had a time when they've had this thought--or something very close to it--running in their head:

if that doesn't work, here's the direct link:


not that i condone this attitude. i don't, because--and let's face it--practice and training has a purpose, and you won't ever realize whatever potential you may have unless you practice and train. but having said that, there are still times when i can totally sympathize with the sentiments here, and there are times i've completely felt this way.

i think it's better to recognize and accept this. you have to deal with it before you can move on. the alternative--denial or resistance--just aggravates the problem by allowing it to fester, in which case all it does is grow. and if it grows big enough, it will explode, and the results won't be very pretty, for you or anybody else around you. what you really need is for it to go away, and the sooner the better.

by recognizing and accepting that you feel this way, you at least give yourself a chance to treat it by doing the following:
  1. understand the nature of the problem
  2. realize the source of the problem
  3. either allow the problem to dissipate on its own, or mitigate it by addressing its origins
  4. decide how to get past the problem and move on
dealing with the problem begins with recognition and acceptance. it ends by moving on.

and you have to move on. it's the only way you'll be able to continue with the task you've set for yourself: completing the race. more than this, it's the only way you'll be able to have the freedom to become the one thing that you have the potential to be: fully human.

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