Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trying to find meaning in it all

Fitness is a strange creature. It isn't just something we do from time to time. It's actually a relationship. And like all relationships it has its ups and downs. Take for instance my last post. Last time I wrote about how I think I'm going to stop triathloning all together and never set foot in a multi-sport arena again. Then today I go out for a run and it was amazing. The connection I had with my surroundings, my form felt impeccable and my pace was actually not that bad. It was a great run. The best run I've had since before my IT band injury.

To top that off, I swam this morning for an hour and it too was one of the most amazing swims I've ever had. Every stroke felt powerful. I was pushing through the water at the pace that felt correct (70% on some laps, 80-85% on others), and at the end I really felt like I worked.

It's unclear to me what's been going on. I do understand life has highs and lows that we all fall into from time to time. I don't know if everyone feels like this but when I'm in my lows it feels like it'll never change. It feels like I'm at the bottom. Alone. Cold. Everything is working against me and it will never stop being that way. Water tastes like salt, the sunlight hitting my skin doesn't feel warm, my workouts are bad, my job performance is poor, and my attitude is less than desirable.

Then, at some point, I experience a 180 to the twentieth power. My body glides effortlessly through the water, I feel powerful and could do it for days, I tear through the wind on my bike like it wasn't even there, I flow on the running course, my work is fun and pleasurable, taste returns, everything is bright, I feel connected to nature and all the living things around me. Even water tastes delicious.

I'm very attached to my emotions and unfortunately I've let them drive me in almost everything I do. What I think has been happening is I've moved away from a life in integrity and selflessness and into one of self centeredness. I've focused on myself in all areas and in the process have lost sight of a lot of the things that matter: friends, family, spirituality, morals, and character. I've traded these for a selfish life. But through the help of some motivational books, the bible, and other forms of inspiration, I'm rediscovering a value system that puts emphasis on others while at the same time growing as a person. It's given me insight into a lot of areas of my life that needed (and still need) attention. But, just as Rome wasn't built in a day, neither will this wall of self focus. But God really is working some good stuff in my life. I'll take it a day at a time and let tomorrow hand itself over when it gets here.

Here's todays run:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Still Undecided on Triathlons

I'm seriously at a loss. I'm in the worst shape I've been in in nearly 4 years and I'm following an Ironman training routine. After yesterday's [disasterous] run (dare I even call it a "run") I have no choice but to consider my life as a triathlete and if it's worth it. If someone has a strong opinion or knows I'm doing something wrong please leave a comment or send me an email. Otherwise, no matter how alluring the call of an Ironman distance event, after this year I'm done with triathlon and going back to strictly running and biking as cross training.

We as athletes spend far too much time training to be spending it unwisely. That said, I've been doing two workout per day for the past several months: morning cardio and evening weights. I've been doing this in as much as my body will let me. I'm very conscious about when my body says it needs down time and I give it to my body.

After spending months following an Ironman training program and skipping out on my running I've reached the following conclusions:

  • Cycling and swimming in no way keep a person in excellent athletic shape unless done in extreme distances or conditions. Need proof? Go to any lake or pool and check out all the overweight swimmers who are actually good at swimming (hint: there are a lot of them). As for biking, go to any place bikers like to go. You'll make the same observation. Good bikers are a mix of thin and overweight but mostly overweight.
  • The return on the investment of time made in swimming and biking in no way matches the return from running. I've spent more time exercising for this Ironman than I have for any marathon and I'm in the worst shape I've been in in recent memory.

I'm very seriously trying to give this sport its due but to be perfectly honest I'm not seeing what people enjoy so much about it and after this season am most likely going to give it up unless someone can point out what I'm doing wrong. It's expensive, there's a very short season in which it can be done, and a lot of these people I've met are very elitist (go to Gear West for a healthy portion of I'm-better-than-you attitude). Marathons have been an amazingly rewarding experience. Triathlons... almost exactly the opposite.

Below is the horrible run I had which spawned this note.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

4 Hour Bike Ride

Won't win any awards for speed or consistency but it was a really fun ride. My friend Bruce and I explored portions of the Twin Cities neither of us have seen before. The Gateway Trail in St. Paul is gorgeous but definitely starts in a semi-shady part of town. We didn't make it all the way down but I guess that leaves us an adventure for another day.

All together we got in a total of 3 hours, 50 minutes. That wasn't total saddle time but who's counting?

Update: 3:50 WAS total saddle time.

Still Training

Not as hard as I was. 2008 really did a number on me. It's as if I'm going to need all of 2009 to redefine not only myself but everything else. It's been interesting to see the changes I've been going through in terms of motivation. I love being active but I'm again on the fence in terms of my desire to keep doing triathlon. I think the allure of finishing an Ironman triathlon keeps me going. Beyond that I'm not sure I enjoy doing them.

I can get into an entire essay on the topic and probably will because I think it's important for me to see it in black & white rather than mull it through my head.

In the mean time I've got a long bike to get in today but I wanted to share two workouts I did over the past week. Hope you enjoy.