…of exercise philosophy and Soccer moms

Went to some friend’s daughter’s little league softball game last night. Came away from the experience reminded of how petty and self obsessed some little league parents can be. Words like “hypercompetitive” and “vicariously obsessed” came to mind as I listened to the barely muffled complaints about who was playing what position and how “my daughter is better”. As much as I love organized sports, I really may just try to keep my children heading down the solo sport path. At least, that way, ultimately, responsibility for their actions falls to them. No one can complain. And they are ultimately only competing against themselves. I think that teaches some very valuable lessons. I know… so do team sports (I played baseball for 16 years). It’s just hard to point out the valuable lessons over some Hummer driving soccer mom (or dad) screaming obscenities at the poor VOLUNTEER officials…

We also talked about training last night after the game. Sam’s friend wants to compete in a triathlon for kids (50yd swim, 1 mi. ride, 200yd run) and she had questions about how to train. I am certainly not an expert on triathlon training, but I was able to help a little bit. I made a few suggestions for a training plan and gave her some tips. I hope she likes it and has fun.

Anyway, my son, the lovable couch potato, has even started asking about it. When told that the first step in training for a distance event like a triathlon is putting down the Gamecube controller, he winced noticeably and changed the subject. My hope is that if he sees his friends do it, maybe he will get more motivated. We’ll see. Oh… and he needs to learn how to swim… that might help…

If I could swim, I think it would be fun to do a triathlon. Unfortunately, I swim like a rock. I am “negatively buoyant”. I have done a few team triathlons but I always did the run leg. I also just don’t think I have the time to train for a triathlon. Especially the biking portion. I’m lucky to find an extra hour a day for running. I don’t think my family could afford the 2-3 hours I would need for biking. And I wouldn’t ask them to.

I think one of the coolest things about distance running, and training for a marathon especially, is how intensely personal it is. I do it for my own reasons, I compete against myself, I have serious, honest discussions with my body on a daily basis, I am forced to tune in to my body (especially on long runs) and listen to what it says, food is personal and must be a conscious routine (not a bad habit). A “coach” may be able to help with form or suggest a training plan, but when the gun goes off, I become a very self contained unit. It’s almost like I go into a bubble and once I’m in, the world is a little quieter and I am very single minded of purpose. I can’t let my attention slip (which is probably the hardest part for me) or I miss something (like my body telling me to slow down, or forgetting to drink). I have also become very selfish about this time. It’s like I NEED to be in this place or something is missing from my day. Even though I will never be a competitive “racer”, I still run every day as hard as I can. I don’t think there are many other sports out there where you train so hard, knowing you are going to lose… and it doesn’t matter. In fact, it kind of takes some of the pressure off…! Does that make sense?


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