Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fail to Succeed

I failed in one of my running workouts this week. I was supposed to descend the run starting out conservatively and then ratcheting down the pace every two miles to finish running hard. Unfortunately, I started out way too aggressively running my first 2 miles too fast. Then, I was forced to hang on and suffer for the rest of the run. I completely failed to complete the workout as intended; however, I still improved my fitness and mental toughness by finishing the session with 100% effort.I think that sometimes failing in a workout whether it's a run, swim, or bike makes you a stronger athlete. If every workout went perfectly as planned, it wouldn't be a challenge.
The interesting thing about doing sports is that every workout is an opportunity to improve my physical and mental fitness. Thinking that there is no possible way I can take another step let alone finish the workout and yet gutting through it to finish makes it easier to get through a tough race when the body really start to hurt. Staying focused and positive when a workout goes poorly is the best way to prepare for that situation in a race.
I love this quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." I have definitely been at the end of my rope and somehow managed to survive. I remember my first marathon in Chicago, I had an unseeded number so was supposed to start way back from the elite runners. But I wanted to really give it a go in the race so I jumped the barrier and started up to the front as close to the pros as was allowed. My attitude was either your going for it or you're not, and I didn't want to finish with any excuses as to why I didn't have a good race. So I wanted to hold 6 minute pace as long as I could and managed to hit the first half in 1:19. While I paid for the early pace during the last six miles, the risk also garnered me a great finish as well as made me mentally stronger and smarter for the next one. In triathlon, I have had similar experiences where I don't think I can possibly finish a workout or race yet somehow I manage to get through it. Every time it is much better to finish even if it's ugly than to quit and it makes the races that go well according to plan even more magical.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Getting by with a little help from.....

Confucius, otherwise known as 孔夫子; Kǒng Fūzǐ; K'ung-fu-tzu, or "Master Kung", was a thinker and social philosopher whose teachings have deeply influenced Asian thought and life. His philosophy emphasized morality, justice, and sincerity. Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism (儒家).

Confucius emphasized the importance of study and is still seen by Chinese people as a Great Master. He wanted his disciples to think deeply for themselves and relentlessly study the outside world, relating the moral problems of the present to past. One of the deepest teachings of Confucius may have been the superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behavior. His moral teachings emphasise virtue, self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment.

What does all this have to do with triathlon? On the surface of day to day training, not a whole lot.... However, after all the workouts and hard training, life and our journey in triathlon still has to have meaning and provide fulfillment aside from success or failure at any specific event. Each day involves personal choices: to give 100% or cheat yourself, to support your teammates or put them down, to appreciate your coach, friends, family or to take them for granted, to see the world through empathic eyes or critical ones, to see your challenges as opportunities or dread them as insurmountable mountains. This season, I want to find embrace each step of the journey and remain calm under all the antagonizing eternal pressures.

Here are a few wise quotes from Confucius that really capture the essence of my hopes for this years' adventures.

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do. "

"Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it."

"Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses. "

"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart."