Saturday, October 3, 2009

Things I don't understand

Yeah, I know; the things that I don't understand could take up several volumes...just ask my wife. But in this case, my musings are fairly specific. I was in court on Tuesday and the judge told me that she was impressed with my weight loss and she didn't think that she could ever do it. Then just the other day, one of my friends who has also taken up running stated rather matter-of-factly that she was not going to train like me, because she wasn't ever going to be as fast as me. But why is that? Of course, I have the benefit of superior genetics (;p), but can't we all break through our limitations?

Take the Biggest Loser. Those guys lose hundreds of pounds in such a short time that it seems implausible. So how is it possible? Is it just time and training? They have the benefit of nutritionists, physical trainers, and time dedicated to just losing weight. Much like athletes who dominate the playing fields, they focus their life in pursuit of their chosen sport...becoming stronger, faster and better than the other guy. Granted Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher are all also supremely gifted to the extent that few will ever reach their level of achievement or talent.

Does real life (i.e. paying bills, getting kids to school, etc.) make the difference? I couldn't have gotten as far as I have without the support and understanding of my family. Unlike those sports mega-stars, my life doesn't revolve solely around my chosen sport. Running doesn't pay the bills, so I do have to spend some time working according to that pesky IRS.

Then there is the genetics/talent factor as one of my friends pointed out to me. My level of fitness won't be the same as someone else's. I think that I can safely say that I will not ever achieve the 4 minute mile. But if given time and training, why can't I? Assuming that I could train like an Olympic level athlete would I ever be able to achieve Olympic-like greatness? I seriously doubt it. Like my wife says, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

Surely attitude is part of the equation. If I don't have the desire to pound my body against the road, I wouldn't do it. But attitude can only take you so far, I think. Is it the magical formula of attitude, ability, training and time? Attitude motivates you. Ability sets your genetic ceiling. Training teaches you how to reach your goal. Time shapes and mixes the 3 other factors towards reaching your goal.

I was looking over some of my old races. This time last year I was barely running 10 mins/mile over a 5k. Now, I've somehow managed to reach 6:59 mins/mile! That's not a world-shaking time, but I would never have guessed that I could have achieved that last year. I was just hoping to be able to run 8 mins/mile by this time. Part of it has to be my utter disregard for proper training regimens, and part of it has to be my family's willingness to endure my time away from home. But what is the other part? I never considered myself an athlete of any level, and I barely do now. As my wife says, "What is my deal?" I don't know. And now I've kinda forgotten my point. Maybe it is: we can all be great in our own ways, if we can get out there and try? Later kids.

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