So here I am, two weeks post Wildflower, two months until the Lake Placid Ironman. The euphoria of my performance at Wildflower has faded a bit, and the training is starting feel less heroic and more of a grind. Double workouts can be a smile, but they also become extremely repetitive and all consuming. So why do I do this? What is the reward because it surely is not to win or compete against other people.
1) Eat. I love food and can't stand thinking about controlling how much I eat. If I was a woman, there is no doubt that I would have an eating disorder. None. But I'd also be really hot.
2) Stuff. As I have mentioned before, I love the things associated with triathlons. The bike, running sox, goggles, wet suit, race numbers, etc. It's like collecting Civil War figurines, except much cooler.
3) A major. Everyone needs to major in something. For some its work, celebrity gossip (that is my life's minor), charity work. Working out and exercising is the bit with which I am identified and have 42 seconds to discuss each day before I am told to shut up.
4) The ultimate excuse. I love to hang out with friends and drink but I have limitations. I have never been a night person so even in my teen and 20's, I would start to fade at midnight when everyone else was starting to crank it up. That is now compounded by the fact that I am complete lightweight so on any given night that I go out, I have about 90 minutes before my engine shuts down. Training gives me an excuse for bailing early ("I have to get up early and run") even if I would have left anyway due to being bombed on three Bud Lights.
5) Stress management. My job in high tech PR is pretty stressful, and I tend to overanalyze everything in my personal life. Endurance sports reduce this stress in a physiological way and provides a mental break from obsessing over other aspects of your life. Rather than wondering whether she likes me, I can have a break from these thoughts by thinking about whether my calf will cramp before I am done with the swim.
6) Vanity. While everyone is vain, I am probably worse than the average. I tend to judge people too much on their appearance, including myself. Working out only feeds this disease. It does hinder my performance, as I lift more weight than I probably should for optimally performing in endurance sports. Of course, if I didn't lift I'd finish 47th, not 51st, so it's not like I am leaving money on the table by lifting.
7) The challenge. Nothing ground breaking here. Running the last three miles of a 10 mile run when you are exhausted, forcing yourself out of bed at 3:00 am to get the pre-flight workout in and biking 50 miles solo in the rain makes you a stronger person mentally, and gives you a lot of confidence that you can accomplish things that seem outside of your reach. Merrill in his natural state is a couch potato, but I have forced him to become an active person.
8) Being different. Not only does everyone need a major in their life, but people want to be different, to stand out as an individual. This is why in college I wore shorts in the dead of winter. To get attention. Not sure if it got me the right attention but infamy is better than irrelevancy. While tens of thousands of people do triathlons, and millions of people run, in any given closed environment, like work, family or friends, there are not that many people who do so you stand out in these groups. You have some unique to add to the mix.
9) Health. From an efficient respatory system to ideal weight to constant endorphin release, you just feel better when you exercise.
10) Return to the animal. This reason is copied. Humans basically spend most of their time focused on mental activities (communication, work, reading, watching TV) which is opposed to almost every other specie which exists in a physical realm (walking, hunting, etc). Exercise is an attempt to stay in tune with the animal side of your life, to remain in the state from which you evolved. To be the best rhino that you can be.