Monday, March 19, 2007

The only thing harder than running

A good friend of mine recently hurt his calf. He's training for a pretty hardcore race so he's finding it very difficult to stop training and give it the rest it needs. Sound familiar? If you're into distance racing, you've probably been there too.

It takes a lot of mental toughness to participate in any form of endurance exercise. When you start to get tired, your mind will throw everything it can find at you to convince you to stop. After all, your mind still needs to be convinced of that which you already believe in your heart - that you have what it takes to reach your goal. And so when the going gets tough, we shut of our minds and "just do it."

For the most part, this stubborn determination is extremely helpful. Like any strength, however, it can become dangerous if overdeveloped. I tried to "work through" a sore shoulder and ended up with tendinitis. Now I have to see physio once a week and am not allowed to swim for a while.

I guess you could say pain is the reality check that says we need to start listening to our heads again (briefly!) and get whatever's causing us grief checked out.

It's still hard to stop training though.

The only thing harder than running
is not running

~ Unknown

Saturday, March 17, 2007


A friend of mine told me recently told me that she's moving away. Apart from the fact that she's single and beautiful, I'm also sad because she's a good friend. All the same, I managed to talk her into coming to the tri party tonight to say goodbye to everyone.

Back when I was a youth, they used to have this show called "Cheers" about a local bar whose main appeal was that everyone knows your name. There's a lot to be said for that. The Hebrews (yes, we need to look waaaay back in history) said that your name wasn't simply a handle but a reference to your character. To do something in someones name was to do it in the same character that they would do it in. Combine that understanding with the "Cheers" motif and you've got a tri club. We all have different lives with different needs and desires ... but we all seem to be fueled by the same desire to see what our bodies are capable of. I used to be kind of so-so about going to tri parties but since I've been training for Ironman, I've really felt a need to be around people who understand the desire to push the limit of what we think we're capable of. I love tri parties because (in the Hebrew sense) everyone has the same name. We never need to explain why. It's just understood.

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same

You want to be where everybody knows your name

~Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo

Monday, March 12, 2007

How many workouts does it take to do an Ironman?

Short answer: lots.

At this time last year, I was thinking I needed to start getting my act together if I was going to do the 1/2. At this time, this year (yeah, that'd be now) it's a whole other story. The clock hits 10:30pm and I ask myself why I'm not in bed yet. Tomorrow's Tuesday so that means it's a yoga morning. I have a dinner with a friend at 6:30pm so I'll do the 5:15pm run with the Y instead of my usual Tuesday 7pm run with the running room. Heck, it's even becoming the norm to run home after a group run, grab my mp3 player and keep going for another 6k or so. I never thought I'd use my bike trainer as much as I have. Let me tell you, I can't wait for it to get nicer outside. Indoor biking (apart from the freewheel class I had tonight) is for the birds.

In short, it's only March and with 5 months to go before the big day, my life revolves around work and training.

Thing is, I love it. I don't know if you could do an Ironman if you didn't love the training. Well, I suppose you could but why would you? Life is long enough to do everything we ever wanted but not long enough for us to waste it on things that make us miserable.

A number of years ago, I got to watch Simon Whitfield race after he'd just come back from winning the gold at the Olympics. As he glided across the finish line, he started jumping up and down and hugging everyone in sight. The first words out of his mouth was: "that was fun!" At the time, I was mystified. I'd just had a really hard race and was contemplating giving the sport up. That was fun? I realized that I was doing something wrong and made a commitment that if I was going to race, I was going to finish every race saying that. So far, I've succeeded in that endeavor.

This year, I seem to be saying it after every workout! (Ok, maybe not the indoor bike sessions!)

Life short, call now

~ Bruce Cockburn