"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Ralph Waldo Emerson
The above quotation comes from my friend and teammate, Lori who offers as much insight and encouragement to her friends as anyone I know. I thought the quote she posted today was appropriate because I’m in an interesting place in my non-training that has gotten me thinking about who I am. Hold on, it’s about to get philosophical!
The first conclusion I have drawn comes from a self-evaluation of my training. I ask myself, what have I done this week for workouts? How much? When? And did I enjoy it?
I can open up Fitness Journal and take a look at my graphs – they answer the first three questions. The website, however, won’t answer that last one. And the last one is the most important one.
The difference between the workouts during the past two weeks and those that preceded them in the six months leading up to CDA is not the volume. I’m putting in very similar hours and distances as I did in the pre-peak training weeks. Approximately 16 hours each week, with just over 110miles on the bike, 35miles of running, and 2-3hours of swimming.
Admittedly, I’ve stopped going to the pool at 4:45am, and instead I put in a little less time during evening workouts. I try to get the long weekend workout in (+3500yards) though. The pool is just a pain to pack for.
The difference between these current workouts is that I do them because I love the sports. Not because fear or doubt or a deadline is forcing me to put the work in. But because I actually enjoy what I do.
To be myself is to be in motion. Or, as I tell myself when I run sometimes, I feel most alive at 150 beats per minute.
I am a prime personality for scheduling and deadlines. I thrive on them. And I was lost in the two or three days after the race, when I took down the training calendar and put up my “hair cut appointment” reminder. Less fun training for a hair cut. Grow. Rest. Grow. Wash. Grow.
So on that third day, I decided to do whatever workouts I wanted to do. I wasn’t questioning my motivation. I wasn’t trying to maintain that impossible race shape. I was really just trying to figure out who I am within the lens of my athletic life.
We all live in a world that is constantly asking commitments from us. The day job, the night job, the family, the friends, the necessities of eating and sleeping, and okay, showering.
The “World” isn’t always asking us to be who we are not, but nor is it forgiving in its limits. There will only ever be 24 hours in the day.
One of the greatest accomplishments, I think, is figuring out who you are – what heart rate do you live at – and keeping that in sight. Emerson’s observation is clear – we must “constantly” try to be ourselves in the face of forces that tempt us, goad us, and challenge us to do otherwise.
I’m lucky that I like the sports I do. I’m driven by goals (some arbitrary numbers, others personal satisfactions) and I certainly owe a significant amount of my social life to each team I have been a part of my entire life.
But at the end, when the race or the season is over, when the calendar is off the fridge and the short term goals have been satisfied, I haven’t lost my way. I keep-on-keeping-on trying to be myself. Swim. Bike. Run. Think.