Saturday, April 4, 2009

Overthinking the Journey

My 1st IRONMAN is 16 weeks away. Truth be told; I’m nowhere near ready. Or am I? Other friends and competitors are snickering and bickering about my training and their own. Who read this? Heard that? Learned X? About training etc.

I've come to the conclusion that there is a sizable segment of triathletes who tend to over-think the sport, most of whom seem to be stuck at work perusing “perfect training” on their computer. Apparently, their chosen occupation is not challenging them enough. Over-thinking things is, after all, still easier than actually having to do said things. And so it goes…when all is said and done, more is usually said.

Triathlon is not an easy sport to master. The same could be said for every other sport out there. But this doesn't mean that it's completely abstruse or takes a genius to get to the top of the heap, else you'd see more scholarly types contending, that is if scholarly can be confused with genius? I've known some pretty dumb guys who have done Ironmans and none of these dudes can extrapolate or modulate or conjugate or triangulate or remunerate or complicate, let alone enunciate, yet all of them know precisely what it takes to reach a level of success that few souls will ever experience (thanks, in part, to the attrition rate and an adapted ability to calculate.) I could name names, but then that would only help to aggravate those in the know who claim that such a victory is not just a matter of applied science, but luck as well. Luck of genetics, luck on the day, luck that no one better had entered.

I'll admit that luck plays role in life and in sports, even more than an understanding of science does, but most of that luck can be controlled by simply doing what needs to be done. In the case of triathlon, this means running, cycling and swimming, and lots of it.

As an athlete, it's easy to assume that the more information you can gather the better you'll perform. But alas, things don't necessarily work that way. The last thing you want to do is clutter your brain more than it already is (even, as it is in my case, if it's empty.) After all,
the brain---your central thought-processing unit---is the REAL motor behind your performances (and sometimes your failures.) It's what sets your dreams and desires into motion (or, perhaps, it simply mulls over them until it's too
it's what decides what you're going to do every minute of every day; it's what clings to old wounds and/or happy memories; and it's what runs the rest of that amazing, wonderful body of yours. The more stuff it has to sort through, the less likely you are to succeed...or find peace. As an athlete, all your brain needs to know is what it knew when you were a child: keep it fun, try to beat your friends (and enemies) and attempt to do it again tomorrow. Simple as though it may sound, this capability seems to be lost somewhere along the way to adulthood, especially when performance is on (the) line.

Frank Pucher

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