This time it’s a different conversation:
What are you doing tomorrow?
What time are you getting up?
There’s a pause
The answer to this question is both simple and complex the same time. Simply, it’s because I want to. Now, why do I want to? That’s another question entirely!
It’s 5 O’clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in……..
It’s cold and dark and sometimes foggy, it may even be raining (if you are near Chelsea). Sometimes you’re alone, sometimes you’re not (a factor I’ll expand on a bit later), and sometimes you think, “what am I doing out here?”. Often the first answer that pops into my head (and I talk to myself a lot out there…..more and more actually) is, “I’m doing this because I can”.
People ask me, “How can you enjoy riding that long”, or “running that far”, “or swimming in those crap conditions”?, and to be honest, sometimes I don’t. I guess it’s the fact that I can do it, that is so satisfying. I tell myself how lucky I am, how many other people can’t do this, that I am alive, I’m out in the fresh air (sometimes really fresh!), and frankly there will come a time when I can’t do it.
I often say to people, “If you want to do something, whether it be an Ironman or any kind of event, and you have the opportunity to do it, then go for it, because you never know when, or even if, you’ll get the opportunity again”.
Ultimately the choice will come down to this;
Are you going to go out or not? Find a reason to get out there, make it interesting, try a new road, a new gadget, a new piece of kit, a new coffee shop, plan to give yourself a reward. If something isn’t working or you don’t like it, then change it. Watch other people, learn from them. If you’re riding, make yourself as comfortable as possible, don’t worry about looking good with your seat too high or your bars too low! So, before you make that decision, think of how you will look back on your choice later that day. Will you be able to say, “Yep I made the right decision there. I’m really glad I did that”.
I know self-motivation is a powerful driving force, to set yourself goals and be uncompromising in working towards them. Once you start and you have a timetable to work to, it can become an all-encompassing obsession. I believe however there is an even stronger motivating force, and that is when we do something for someone else. To know someone is relying on you, and is waiting for you to show up is a very strong incentive. I guess this is a version of, “we are in this thing together” and a form of the “TEAM” mentality.
So, commit to someone the night before and say, “yes I’ll be there”! Make yourself feel as though you ARE part of the team, and you NEED to be there both for you and for everyone else. The camaraderie of a Team is extremely strong and while it can be seen in just about any sports club, I believe it is very strong at Tri-Alliance, and I count myself lucky to be a part of it!
So maybe you’re not training for a race or a specific event! There’s always a reason to get out there. To get fit, to lose weight, to get outside, to meet people, to explore new places, to boldly go where no ………… sorry getting carried away there! But give yourself goals and all the incentives I have listed so far, are equally applicable.
I suppose the Ironman is a special case.
The training is so relentless, it not only takes a toll on your body, but launches a scorching, soul-searching assault on your mind. The minute you enter one, your will is being tested even before a pedal has been turned. The training of your mind has started before you have stepped out that door.
It’s a definite phenomenon, as soon as we enter, we let other people know we’ve entered, we want to know who else is doing it, who we can train with, and who will help us. We start putting together a vague plan of long rides and runs and where we might swim, and when, or if, we’ll go open water.
I know I do it, and I watch it unfold each time I see others enter one, and then I think to myself, “they may not know it, but they have already started training!”
What I’m saying I suppose is that it is the mind that is the governor in these things, and ultimately what will determine their outcome, and that making the decision to get out the door is a step in the hardening process you need to get through many of these events, and achieve your goals. When we come to do these events we often think there is a level of unconscious control over our performance. An instinct if you like, that has been honed during the massive load of repetitive training and takes over during the heat of competition. But I believe there is a higher level of control, that we can override these responses and exert our conscious will over what’s happening to our body. Like anything however, we need to train this particular skill, and believe it or not, you all do it!
At this point I’d like you to read a quote from Steve PreFontaine (Pre), a runner who had a chapter in the book “How bad do you want it” by Matt Fitzgerald, devoted to him.
“Pre learned very early in his running career that winning was not the reward that made all the fear and pain worthwhile. Rather it was self-discovery. Why run? is a question often asked, he wrote in a high school essay. Why go out there every afternoon and beat out your brains? What is the logic of punishing yourself each day, of striving to be better, more efficient, tougher?”
He went on to answer his own question:
“The value in it, is what you learn about yourself. In this sort of situation all kinds of qualities come out, things you may not have seen in yourself before”.
Beautifully and succinctly put!
So why do I choose to go out that door?
The truth is, I can’t wait to get out there. To challenge myself, to see if I can still do it, to meet up with other like-minded people, to watch them progress and meet their own challenges. To share my experiences, and to learn from theirs. I love to do it and love the fact that I can, and still am able to do it. The choice is yours I suppose, to open that door and venture out, or not. I realise sometimes it’s not that inviting, but think of how you’ll feel afterwards, the satisfaction and reward for “having a go”!
The opportunity exists for us all to assist others with less experience than ourselves. To help someone and be part of their journey can be equally, and sometimes more rewarding than our own. So, when you’re asked to go for that ride, or run or whatever, say yes and make sure you turn up! Sometimes all it takes to help someone is simply to BE THERE!
Hey, we ARE in this together!