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Shut up and keep running. – Dan Holmes: Jan 25 on my facebook page when I was whining about my 20minute/mile pace

Yesterday I preached a sermon on the theme of “it’s not that complicated.” It’s always a plus when I can take my own advice.

The regrets of my DNS from Saturday are already in the past. If I take an honest assessment of my history, a perceived failure like that a few years ago would have been an excuse for me to cycle into a pointless and somewhat manufactured depression and possibly quit altogether.

I am having a completely different reaction this time. I’m simply moving on with a new week. I’m figuring out my schedule so I can get a workout in each day, even if the week ends up a bit lopsided. I’m not over-compensating for “time lost.” That sort of thinking has been at the core of my problems for a long time. I used to think I was a last-minute thrive-under-pressure person and that was a static reality about my personality. As I’ve been better at planning recently, I am finding the joy in being prepared. Without preparation and rehearsal, Olivia and I would not have won an award at Twist & Shout 2011. (And I think it’s time to start serious work on 2012.) It’s still a good ability to be able to adapt quickly, but on the continuum of rigid to chaotic, I’ve always been so afraid of one that I tended toward the other. Is it possibly a sign that I can start to grow up before the age of 40, that I am favoring living my life somewhere in the middle of that? Twenty years later and that degree in philosophy may finally pay some dividends as the Greek golden mean begins to actually make sense.

The great thing about endurance training is that you can’t fake it. You have to put the time in training. This is especially true the longer a race gets. While it was a pretty big feat for me to do a sprint triathlon, most people in decent health can run out and finish one without training. They’ll be slow, and tired, but they could finish. Well, almost no one can do a Half Ironman or beyond with no training. It’s simply not done. A great quote I see on the beginnertriathlete.com is this “triathlon is a winter sport that is simply contested in the summer.”

With that in mind, my focus for the summer is not so much on the time I get in the Lewisburg Triathlon, or the 5K swim in Hazleton which is still making me nervous. My focus is on gold stars. There’s a reason that elementary school teachers use stickers. Kids love them. They are rewards on a daily or weekly basis that add up.

The achievements that will matter in 2011 will not be as obvious to a casual observer. There’s no t-shirt or finisher’s medal for putting in six workouts a week around my house. There are only color-coded notes on a training log. I have kept logs of my workouts for myself since December, but I recently decided to make it public on the bt.com board. Not that anyone reads them, but they are there so that if I ask anyone for training advice, they can look at my logs and see what’s going on. I don’t want many blank spaces. At the end of the week, or the month, I can look at them and say “maybe no PR today, but I got out there regularly.”

Getting out there consistently is, in the long term, way more important, and a greater achievement for me. The defining moment of the last week was not a DNS (though one could make the case that a more impulsive Andy would have done it anyway and messed up the rest of the day, so the right decision WAS a big deal….) I will think of the defining moment of the week as 4:30 pm on Sunday. At the time, I was halfway through a 3 mile run. I was smiling, my head was up, and I was thinking about how it was nice to run in the summer, not like six months ago. But six months ago got me to this place. The run itself was not extraordinary. It wasn’t very fast, it was uneventful. It was, however, remarkable that it was happening at all. A year ago, I don’t know exactly what I was doing late on a Sunday afternoon, but I can assure the world of this: I wasn’t running.

I’ll say more about this tomorrow, in my last post before the prison chronicles begin: There is No Such Thing as Potential

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One thought on “Of Greeks and Gold Stars

  1. I love those uneventful runs almost as much as the “big-to-do” runs. They remind me that I really can do this!! Good choices, parson; it’s not easy (all of this) but you are accomplishing MUCH!

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