Monday, December 7, 2009

Running Away? Or Becoming More Present?

"I have a theory that most endurance athletes are running away from something… when you’re not zoning out during training to endure the pain, you’re too tired to even think about anything else. It’s almost like training can numb those emotional nerve endings."

I read this on a friends blog today and it got me thinking. While this may be the truth for many people, the sport of triathlon has the complete opposite effect for me. I find that training makes me feel more and more alive as the days go on.

First of all let's talk about the physical pain the sport inflicts. We have all felt the burn of the lungs in the pool during a tough session, and the burn of the quads while pedaling up a seemingly endless hill. I'm not sure about others but this is when I become my most present. For me it is very easy to zone out on those long, L2 work-outs. I call this my therapy time and with all the stress I have in my life, I know I need it. It sure is a ton better than spending time and money to sit and chat with some therapist. Give me a bike or running shoes, my Ipod and the open road, and all my problems seem to sort themselves out.

But once I take it up a notch, and the heart rate goes up and pain begins, the focus kicks in. I like feeling that pain; it reminds me that I am alive. I use it to help me take myself to a level I didn't think possible. I am always elated when I finish a work-out that I am sure is going to kill me.

On the emotional side, triathlon has me feeling more emotions than ever before. I'm not just talking about the racing. Sure I've felt some of my highest highs and my lowest lows while racing, but it is the day to day training I'm thinking of. It's the joy I feel when seeing the sun rise over the hills in Mission Trails. It's the peace I feel when taking time out of a cove swim to admire the beauty surrounding me. It's the pride I feel when conquering a really tough ride. It's the frustration I feel when a session does not go the way I want.

I would argue the point that I use triathlon to keep myself from becoming another one of the passionless people that our over-technologed society is creating. Most people in the U.S. today spend more time interacting with their computer, phone, television and other electronic devices than they do interacting with the world around them. They don't know how it feels to have the cool ocean waters glide across their skin or what it sounds like to have the wind rush pass their ears. They have never felt their heart beat so fast it feels like it may pop out of their chest or the shear joy of crossing the finishline of a race and looking up to see that PR. They don't stop to admire the endless beauty of the San Diego coastline or reflect on how their body and mind is becoming stronger on a daily basis.

So the question remains, "Am I running from something?" I'd say probably, but that's my secret! More than that I think I am running towards something...becoming a happier and better me!

2 comments:

Marni said...

Love your blog! I love that last quote! Keep enjoying triathlons..it is a great lifestyle!
-marn

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Awesome. Well said. Your training is headed to all things good. The rest of us are lucky to be in your wind shadow.