Two years ago today I woke up in a super-swanky hotel in downtown Vancouver, drank a couple cups of coffee, and then hunted down a treadmill. I flew up to Canada from LA for a lightning fast, less than twenty-four hour visit with Marion, (who was there working on Season One of Lost In Space), and I spent ninety minutes of that time running on a rubber belt. He was not upset about my choice to run over lounging together over another lazy cup of coffee, I don’t think he was thrilled about it, but he knew that was part of the deal of sharing a life with me, I will always find a way to train.
It isn’t a choice.
Whenever I am asked, “How do you stay motivated to train every day?” Or, “What do you do if you don’t want to do the second workout of the day?” (A single workout is rare for triathlete’s; two to three is the norm). My standard response is, “It isn’t a choice.” That doesn’t mean that I have not missed a few workouts, I am human, my body has waved the white flag on a few occasions, or “life” has stepped in the way, but I have set up my life to move in one direction, compete in endurance events, and even though I am a natural athlete, I am not a freakishly talented athlete, I can’t just show up to a race and blow by people on a minimal amount of training, I need to put in the work to perform well, and to simply survive the race.
I believe any race over a marathon distance demands months of focused preparation to finish, let alone perform well.
Also, there is strategy involved in racing that can only be developed by racing. For example, I have not experienced any workout that comes close to the sensation of a triathlon swim or Ironman marathon. Obviously, it’s tough to find a thousand friends to swim at the same time and in the same place in order to mimic a triathlon swim, and even though I have completed some nutty training days during Ironman builds, none of those workouts, (no matter how difficult they felt at the time), have come close to the challenges I faced during the actual Ironman marathon. That is why I believe it is helpful to race a minimum of two iron-distance triathlons per season in order to gain knowledge and to simply “practice” racing an Ironman.
Recently I have had the pleasure of training with teammates and friends; however, for the majority of the last decade that I have upped the ante in my endurance lifestyle, I have trained by myself. Naturally, I do think it is more fun to train with others, but it is not a necessity. These races are no joke; “exercising” our way to the starting line won’t deliver the day we want, and if the conditions to get the workouts done are not ideal, do it anyway.
It isn’t a choice.
Plus, the really gnarly days are the ones we learn and grow from the most.
Last Thursday I lived through one of those days. I had a tough run to do and I didn’t get it done. First, the usual spot I run this workout was crazy windy, like 30MPH winds. All. Day. I know it was windy all day, because I went up there in the morning AND the afternoon, (hoping the winds had died down), NOPE! They were still raging. So, I stopped again, and brainstormed where I could go to escape the wind in order to execute this workout the way I was supposed to. Next, I drove another thirty minutes to a lower spot in the valley near the first apartment I lived in with Marion nearly fifteen years ago, hoping the air there was still, it was, so I climbed out of my Jeep and started to run.
What happened next was disappointing, yet a reality to many runners, my left hamstring seized up, and for the first time ever, I was scared if I kept running at the paces I was supposed to, or AT ALL, I could really hurt myself. So, I stopped.
Was I horrified by that decision? Yes. Did I know it was the right call? Yes. Have I now accepted that I need to adopt a consistent softball rolling regimen before and after runs? Yes. And maybe even start getting regular Massage?Yes. Have I run over fifty marathons, and been a “serious” runner since the Clinton administration and never had an injury? Yes. Am I upset that I drove all over southern California searching for a location to simply complete this workout, only to fail once I found it? No.
I believe that everything happens for a reason.
Therefore, the next time I see this workout on my schedule I will drive to that location first, on windy days or not, that location was pure gold, and worth the longer commute. Also, and most importantly, that ridiculously frustrating experience forced me accept that my body is not invincible, and that I need to make some changes if I want to keep going in the direction I am headed.
This Sunday I have my first race of 2019, the Surf City half marathon in Huntington Beach, CA, which means next week’s post should be entertaining.:)
This song and video, Light On, is from my new favorite artist Maggie Rogers. She’s incredible. Enjoy.:)