Thursday, September 1, 2011

"How" vs. "Why"

Swim Day (Taper)
1 x 150- Warm-up
1 x 300- 4:30
1 x 400- 6:00
1 x 500- 7:30
1 x 400- 6:00
1 x 250- cool down

Run Day (Fartlek)
time- 40min

Notes on today: Easy swim to rest and prepare for the Waikiki RoughWater on Monday. There was a little high school girl there sprinting 25s and 50s of breaststroke and keeping pace with my freestyle. I both respect and hate her.
The run started well. My fartlek sprints never felt fast but they felt ok for the most part. After 30 minutes I got wicked bad stomach cramps which first killed my pace, then forced me to walk for about five minutes, which led to stopping in the shade for a few minutes, then jogging slowly the rest of the way home. I wish I knew how to fix it.
On to the Main Thought of the Day
Today I read BikerNate's race report on the Leadville 100. This is a 100 mile foot race with a 25 hour time limit on trails in Colorado. This is for people who run to marathons, run the marathon, run home from the marathon, and then call it a "rest day". It's an inspiring read and I will wait while you click over and check it out.
Ok, back to me. When you and I read this the thoughts that went through our minds was probably different if you are not an endurance athlete, and probably similar if you are. If you aren't an endurance athlete you probably thought, "God, I could never do that. How can you do it?" If you are you might have though, "God, I could probably do that eventually, but why would I want to?"
See the difference?
For a while now in endurance sport, and for much longer in life in general, my mindset has been, "I could do that." It has to be. An athlete cannot think about not being able to do something. Not being able to accomplish a goal. I don't go in to my 2.3mi swims wondering if I can finish. And I'm not looking at my century ride hoping I can get it done. I know I can get it done. Speed is another issue, completely separate from the act. When I read Nate's Leadville report I was inspired, impressed, and completely unmotivated to go out and run for an entire day over hills on top of a mountain. No thanks, not for me. But I never thought, "Wow, man. I could never do that." Because I don't believe that. If I wanted to, I could train for it, I could figure it out, and I could push myself to that limit. But I don't want to, so there is no motivation. And this is not to take away from anyone's accomplishment. It isn't a, "Psh, aint so bad, I could do that," in the least. What he did was huge and I have nothing but respect for it. But I won't allow myself to think I couldn't do the same.
In my teacher-fancy, rose-colored world we can all accomplish whatever we set our minds to. I really believe that any person reading this blog, if you wanted to, could complete and Ironman. Any one of you. Yeah Mom, you too. You could figure out how to get through 2.3 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and a marathon. But you don't want to, and why would you? Its not fun for you. What's impressive about these extreme acts is the will it takes to train for and execute them. But once you commit to Doing It, all that's left is to Go.
Simplistic? Probably. Is there a ton more that goes into these events? Of course. But the mental aspect is, I think, the major hurdle in anything. Aside from naturally talented genetic freaks (Micheal Phelps, Usain Bolt, Jordan) everyone is playing at near the same capacity. We are, I think, a lot more equal than we tend to think. So why are some better than others? They decide to suffer more, sacrifice more, go greater.
Today I was talking with some other teachers about my century training rides and they were saying things like, "Wow, I could never do that," and I don't think that's true at all. Of course they could. A more true statement would be, "Why would you want to do that?" We all can, the difference is whether or not we do.


  1. I like. That guy actually made it sound entertaining. Again, not that that is something I would ever WANT to do! If you do, I'll be on your aid team...that's where I want to be.

  2. Right on Son. Love your philosophy. I could, but don't want to.

  3. We have a local 100 mile trail race ( if you ever get the urge to test/abuse yourself. :P We have a series of trail races--about one a month, starting in April--that gradually increase in distance. The first one is about 7 miles and the final one is the 100. All the races--with the exception of the 100K and the 100M races--are just "show up and pay $10". No advance registration, no drama. All good fun.

  4. I totally and completely agree! What you believe is what you receive.

  5. Agree. People in my social circle have really taken to that "why" question toward me, though. It's getting harder to come up with clever, deadpan-face answers.