Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Training For Life

Party Days.  Thankfully the low light hides my 3 chins.  Yes, that's Steven Adler from Guns N' Roses I am devil horning.  This must be 2006 or 2007.

 Thursday's Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K will be my last race of the year and will officially conclude my second year of racing.  Though I have not run the race yet and anything can happen, I am theoretically capable of beating last year's time 8 minutes.  Regardless, the 2010 season has already had it's share of highlights - I competed in two Olympic distance races this season for starters.  And mixed into a fairly busy race schedule were two sprint distance races that I also did last year.  In both races I improved my finishing times by at least 15 minutes in each over 2009.

Though I'm thrilled with the progress, I realize that my gains where based primarily on an increased level of fitness (where I started from nothing), and decreased weight (where I started from really heavy).  And though I'm not suggesting there isn't any additional room for physical improvement, I really don't expect similar gains next year.  Perhaps a better way to say this is that I don't expect the same type of gains next year.  For one, I (thankfully) don't have very much more weight to lose.  And I think it's realistic to assume that gains in fitness will start coming at a slower pace now that I am in some sort of decent shape.

Don't get me wrong, the bar will be raised.  I'll be going longer (Hawaii 70.3) and taking part in new sorts of challenges (Hood To Coast Relay).  I'm calling 2011 "a year of good racing" and I can't wait for it to start.  I'd love to come out of next year with great achievements and even greater memories.  But as far as "gains" performance or otherwise?  I'm about to walk into the world of the intangibles, I think.

I find all this very exciting, actually.

My wife and I went to see Ian's class sing at an assembly at his school last Friday.  I was running a little late (being a triathlete doesn't fix everything), so I didn't get a seat right away.  But as the other classes finished up their performances, parents started to rotate out of the auditorium and I was able to get a seat next to Mary.  She started telling me about the guy she was just sitting next to.  Apparently, he was telling her all about some sort of special light found on aircraft carriers that he invented.  He also let it slip that he is the Hollywood go-to guy when someone needs to play Gorbachev in a film.  He then asked her what "her husband" did and where he was, in an attempt (I'm assuming) to ascertain if the old dog had an opportunity.  She said I worked in the music/apparel business and was also on my way to kick his ass out of the seat.  Sorry, Mikhail.

I thought about how my wife described me.  She's not wrong, of course, but I'm not sure I see myself that way anymore.  Later that night I asked her if she wouldn't mind describing me as a triathlete who happened to work in the music/apparel industry.  I immediately regretted asking, for it's one of those thoughts that sounds noble in my head but pretentious from my lips.  But like I said, I am realizing that this is how I identify myself these days.

Of course, feeling this way is further proof that I am hooked by the endurance sports lifestyle.  And though I have a recently developed tendency to be wary of anything that feels remotely "addictive", I suppose swimming, biking and running still beats Jack Daniels on any time.  And besides, I like the affiliation to endurance sports.  I'm prouder of this than anything I've done in a long while.  Sure, there is controversy in the sport and I sense a commercialization coming that may not be to my taste.  But at the end of the day, when I'm out there doing what I do, it's me, my thoughts and the road.  In a lot of ways the only difference between a race and training is a number on my belt.  I love this.

Self Portrait 6345627
Yep, I'm hooked and I'm going to make the best of it.  All 360 degrees of it, in fact.  Gains don't need to always be in the physical realm.  Building character and confidence and finding happiness are also a part of the lifestyle.  In fact, over the long term these are the benefits that will undoubtedly become the most important.  I know I don't have to train 12 hours a week for the rest of my life to stay healthy - I'm sure a third of the volume would still pay dividends in terms of good health and disease prevention.  But the character, confidence and happiness built now will last forever.  It will also be there when I really need it.

Think about it: Outside of injury (which could just as easily happen to you while training), what's the worst thing that can happen in a race?  You don't finish?  You don't go as fast as you wanted?  Well, after you calm down a little bit, your character will kick in and you will be gracious in your defeat.  Your confidence will kick in and you will start planning for the next race.  And your positive view of life will take hold and you'll find a way to make the best of your day.  No big deal, right?

Of course in the outside world, you face real life.  The stakes are bigger, the challenges are greater and the potential for real heartbreak is always (unfortunately) just around the corner.  When life gets tough, won't you be glad you have the coping skills you learned from endurance sports?  Because in times like those, character, confidence, and the ability to find happiness will go a long way.

So though I doubt I'll come out of 2011 a 4 minute miler, I can certainly work on training for (and improving) my metrics of life.


DRog said...


"Character, confidence and happiness built now will last forever"

amazing how you can basically describe how Im feling:)


Allison said...

You pretty much kick ass......

misszippy said...

Again, you nailed it! And a big hats off to you for how far you've come. FYI--my triathlon coach used to say that everyone, no matter when they start or from where they start, has up to 10 yrs. to improve, fwiw.

A Prelude To... said...

You REALLY rock! You get it! I loved it all.

Julie @ HotlegsRunner said...

awesome 2011 plans! pretty badass!

Jayme said...

Oh I'm also going to work towards a 70.3 this year! I did Hood to Coast last year. It was a blast, but I was VERY sore afterwards. I got suckered into the "hard" legs (friends told me.."but you're a triathlete... you're in great shape") little did they know... ;)

Shawn said...

yep...nailed it

Jason said...

This is dead-ba**s accurate. When asked to play golf recently my training/racing partner Juan said I'm not a golfer anymroe I'm a triathlete. We laughed but it's true. It is more than the racing and training it is all of the items you listed....confidence, happiness, and character.

Great post (as usual)

Jill said...

Love IT!! You summed it up perfectly! Have a great run in the 10K...I know you will!

Unknown said...

Excellent post Patrick! It might be time to get "Triathlete" on the business cards .. just sayin'

Unknown said...

Excellent post Patrick! It might be time to get "Triathlete" on the business cards .. just sayin'

KovasP said...

Metrics of life, has a nice ring to it. Continued success, friend.

Lindsay said...

i like the plan for 2011- good racing. after a not-quite-as-planned-2010 i need a plan/goal like that for my 2011 too.

i used to be super bad about competitiveness and pr monsters... but i have definitely mellowed out and begun to appreciate running for what it is. much more enjoyable this way.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts. And I get it. Hoping 2011 is as successful and enjoyable, if not more!

Anonymous said...

Turkey Trot - perfect way for you to end a successful year.

I often get introduced to people and they'll say "oh, you're the one that runs, right?" I absolutely love being identified that way. Love it. You ARE a triathlete.

Unknown said...

Great post, Patrick. I'm like you; when people talk about me, one of the first things they say is "runner". Endurance sports make us what we are.

And, you will continue to make gains. Like everything else we do, we improve, then we plateau, and we grow again.

Aimee said...

Seriously, this was just an awesome post! I loved all of it!

Glenn Jones said...

Sometimes I feel guilty for taking so much of my family's time to train, but now that we are empty nesting, it isn't as much a concern.

I always look at a race as my victory lap - my reward for putting in the training.

Nice post!

Johann said...

Awesome! I think when you call it a lifestyle and can call it your lifestyle it says it all. You've done extremely well! You can be very proud.

Christi said...

Great post!

TRI714 said...

keep on, keepin on homie !!
Well stated and written as usual.

Emz said...


Big Daddy Diesel said...

- Good luck at the race

- I think that is the best part of this sport, seeing the improvement, the things that "seemed impossible" two years ago are a regular occurance now. And to think, this is one of the few sport where we get faster with age

- Happy Thanksgiving

Bryan S said...

Really enjoyed your post. It's spot-on. Glad you are enjoying the journey. Good luck tomorrow and enjoy the "off-season". Can't wait to follow your training for 2011. Hood to Coast is going to be awesome!

Jennifer said...

Just stumbled onto your blog and really enjoy it! Not to mention, I just signed up for 70.3 Hawaii myself (my first half IM!). Will be fun to follow your training.


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