Wednesday, April 02, 2008

the OCD of working out (or, i just have to)

oh god.

i swear this sport has given me obsessive-compulsive disorder (that's a.k.a. "OCD" for all the folks out there)--or at least, made it worse than it already was.

to some degree, coming from Scandinavia, i carried the cultural tendencies that most of the world would describe as "anal retentive." my Eurasian butt just can't get away from a desire to see things organized, arranged, cleaned, neatened, placed, straightened, scheduled, set, and just generally figured out. this applies to everything: carpet, clothes, furniture, floors, classes, car, books, research, computer files, e-mail accounts, Youtube videos, this blog, food, drink, nutrition, swim equipment, bike equipment, run equipment, training schedule, social schedule, relaxation schedule, and pretty much my life schedule. it's all spiffy Swedish clean!


i've tried to work on this. i've tried to learn to just relax and let things go. to just, as they say out here in SoCal, "chill out."

i thought i was getting better at this.

but you know, this sport--particularly with Ironman--just sucks time. and given everything else i've got going on (finishing my dissertation, prepping for graduation, and job hunting...and oh yeah, incidentally: if anybody knows of anybody hiring a JD/PhD in International Law & Politics, let me know...), i've got little choice but to get things to fit together. and this means, unfortunately, that i get things organized.

i thought that this was no big deal, since i figured that it was just a characteristic of training, and that therefore it would be something that would disappear once the cause of the training (i.e., the race) disappeared. i mean, if the race that's made the training necessary is done, it means the training is done, and hence the need for anal-retentive obsession on scheduling workouts with the rest of life is also done. right?


because, you see, what i've realized is that this sport changes you. and not just your body or your relationship with the gods, but you as a person in general.

it used to be i was getting the ability to just take free time in my life and just chill out. to just sit around and laze on the couch and lie on my bed and stare out the window and watch tv and essentially do nothing except just get fat.

but not anymore. i'm looking at free time and thinking to myself "man, this is a good time for a swim" or "man, i could fit in a real nice bike ride right about now" or "man, it would be great to go for a run."

which would be fine, cuz these would just be the delusional ramblings of a athlete's deranged mind. except that i then actually find myself going out at doing them.

even though i don't need to, even though i don't want to, even though i'm tired or sore or beat up or weak or just caught in the state so lovingly called "he's out of it." i just have to.

i have to catch myself sometimes, and ask myself just why i'm pushing so hard and so far and so fast when i really don't have to. seriously. this past week, i found myself doing 2-a-day workouts and pushing 2 and 3-hour workouts. basically, i was doing Ironman workouts, but with no Ironman race.

i had to ask myself why i was doing this, even though Ironman is over and i've got nothing on the race schedule. the only response i had was that it was just free time...and i just have to.

yeah, i know: pretty much the hallmark of OCD. you know: i just have to.

not that it's a bad body is looking great, i feel in pretty good shape, and it's helping deal with the stress of a post-grad school job search.

but you know, they always say you're body, even if it doesn't tell you or give you the signals, always needs a certain amount of down time to heal after a major event, particularly one like Ironman.

i'm going to have to work on this relaxation thing. especially since my family and friends are probably expecting to see more of me and are wondering what's going on. and i certainly would like to get a social life for once in my life (not getting any younger, and it would be great to have some female company).

but i'll get to it after this morning workout...because, you see, i just have to.

1 comment:

Bob Almighty said...

I hear you on the high stress do 20things at once lifestyle, granted on the East Coast that's the norm...To quote Robin Williams ," We were founded by the Puritains. people so up tight the British kicked them out."

About the getting right back into Ironman-esque training, I feel you on this one, I have races coming up at the begining of June and it seems after the whole IM experience the mantra becomes, longer, harder, faster, stronger. Especially after pulling a PR