January is almost over...it's been busy to say the least. I've had double the work these days and the same amount of time (and pay), which has been infringing on my Bite Me Kitchen website and this blog! Not to mention that I still need to wrap up a handout I have regarding metabolic efficiency to my teammates and athletes that attended a talk at the coach's house. I'd rather be too busy, than not busy enough. I won't take that for granted! My sanity has resided in training.
As you can see above, my month has consisted of training, laundry, a messy/crazy post ride/run house, beautiful sunrises, sunsets, sweat and compression. This month, I should hit a new record - I'll have run 100 miles in January. Total for the month, I'll have covered well over 700 miles (including bike, swim and run) and I'm only starting this year. 100 miles sounds like a lot until you think about one of my (eventual) goals is to run a 100 mile race. In a matter of days. Straight.
With training has come renewed joy! Nothing makes me happier than the rhythm of routine, the ritual of clarifying the mind and purifying the body through extensive effort, and the camaraderie of friends we train with. Winter is perfect training weather, and I welcome the cold, crisp air and even appreciate the rain. Sure, it's cold. Sure, it's wet. But, at least I can train and I can run and I can get outside. It could be worse - it could be icy or snowing. Or I couldn't have a bike trainer. Or it could be 120' out. Or I could have no legs. See? It could always be worse. It can always be a beautiful day. It's a matter of attitude.
With training starting up again, the "questions" always becomes more pronounced. The questions from other people as to Why on earth are you training like this? It's not like you're a pro! Won't that much exercise hurt you? Won't running in the rain make you sick? Even though I've been doing this for almost 2 years now, the questions always strike me as odd. I mean, I get it... to normal people my training regimen seems nutty. But these are people who know me, and know that I don't do things without reason. Yet, again and again, they ask. Concerned, uncertain, confused, intrigued, they ask WHY. And I always feel like it's a hidden secret I cannot possibly convey. How can I explain my secret to happiness to people who are just seeing "exercise" and "fitness"? How can I give them all those sunrises and sunsets and high-fives to strangers and a zen-like mindset, and rolling hills bathed in sunshine and salt water on my skin and wrap it all up in a way they will understand? I want to ask them, Why don't you work out regularly? Why do you smoke? Why do you eat junk? Why do you drink alcohol daily? Why do you not get enough sleep? What is it about those daily habits that makes you love them so much?
I think people treat anything that requires discipline, commitment and training as something reserved for professionals. That provides an excuse for them to not partake because it excludes them. Oh, not me! I'm 40! Not me, I'm too short! Not me, I've got a job! Not me, I'm too fat, too skinny, too young, too poor, too busy, etc... The interesting thing is, there are many sponsored athletes and pros that started just like me and grew into their new roles whether they are full time athletes or continue to work full time, that have families and kids and hobbies and interests and their own companies and are 30 and 40 and 50 and older. There are all kinds of competitive athletes of all kinds in all walks of life at all ages. I don't have any goals to become a professional, but I really do enjoy training and I like to improve. No one likes doing things they aren't good at. In order to like those things, you must improve. In order to improve, you must do. Before you know it, you're decent at it and having a good time!
There is a growing disconnect between myself and the society I'm in. What I do is not extraordinary. It is simply the result of time, effort, work and dedication. Anyone can do anything, it just requires effort. All of us have the tools we need to succeed, grow, and change. Simply getting a late start at something in life does not mean that it's impossible or unattainable or not worth trying. There is always a way to do something if you truly want to. More so, I feel like a basic principle of mine is strengthening into a passion. I've spent a lot of time thinking on long runs and during swims and rides. Thinking about the concept of "use it or lose it" and how it applies to everything you've been given in life. My body and mind were given to me for a limited and undefined amount of time. How ungrateful would I be to let them sit and decay or to poison them with bad food and toxins? In this world, your body, your mind and your free will are the only things you 100% own. Why would you trash what is so precious? Why wouldn't you use what you have?
And that is something I will never understand. I am not the person who would buy things and store them away like a patient squirrel awaiting just the right time. I wouldn't buy expensive things and not use them out of fear that they'd show signs of use. I'd not close doors of opportunity out of worry that I might fail. I wouldn't save my time up for a future that may or may not arrive. Every single day, my body is aging. My mind is developing in different ways. Sometimes I grow stronger, faster, sometimes a little more brittle and slow. Storing my energy and saving my time does nothing for me should death come knocking tomorrow. What I lose today I can never regain. I want to use every single second of my life, of each day, and I want to use every bit of feasible energy, every capacity for thought, every ability to touch the lives of others and to shape my own, every movement and burst of speed, every effort to make my body and mind engage and interact with my world to the fullest. To do so brings me great, unmeasured joy. It makes me feel alive in every particle of my being. It makes me appreciate the honor of being here and now. And, simply, it makes me feel good.