Is it really worth it?

darthchallengeI’m not one to shy away from a challenge.  I love tough workouts and, even if I blow up, I learn from them and feel better when I’m done.  I feel that you will never get any better as a runner (for example) if you run at the same pace on the same route all the time.  My last post talked about variety and breaking it up and I really think this is important.  For me, it’s like putting an animal in a cage with no variety and nothing to look at and giving them the same food, etc. every day and then wondering why they slowly go insane.  This should not be a mystery.  Their brains shriveled up and died.  Boredom drove them crazy.  I think this is why some training goes awry and people stop working out as well.  If you always lift the same weights, the same way, at the same time, in the same order… at some point you stop paying attention and just start “phoning it in”.

On the other side of that I have shied away from things like Cross Fit and obstacle runs though because I really feel like these things are (or should be) completely separate sports or fitness endeavors.  You can’t just wake up one day and decide to go do Cross Fit as a cross training workout for your triathlon training (or vice versa).  They are two completely different fitness pursuits and you can really hurt yourself.  At the very least you will be sore from using different muscles to the point that you may hamper your true workouts.  Yes, variety for the triathlete should include some strength training, but it has to be sport specific, IMHO.  Mud runs and the like, besides being fun, require training.  Can I, as a triathlete, in good shape, just go do one?  Of course.  Should I?  I guess, if you are willing to sacrifice that $800 Ironman entry fee you paid 6 months in advance to get your spot because you fell off a wall and broke yourself… sure.

I don’t know… maybe I’m just getting too cautious.

I think the same applies to conditions.  I have exercised in some of  the most extreme conditions imaginable.  Severe thunderstorms, 50+ mph winds (Santa Anas), 110 degree heat, active wildfires, negative temperatures, blizzards, even an earthquake (MTB in Ojai the day after the Northridge quake).  Some of these I chose to go out into.  Some of them I got caught in (like the wildfire in Sycamore Canyon).  The latter is inevitable.  Stuff happens.  We were running at the MU track and got caught in a thunderstorm that came up so fast we barely had time to take cover.

It’s the other times when I chose to go out in ridiculous conditions, that have me wondering… why?  And, yes, this is spurred on by our current negative temps and windchills.

Granted, proper clothing can mitigate a lot of the risk.  The problem is that it is unreasonably expensive in most cases.  A good windshell that provides warmth and protection from wind can run upwards of $300.  A wetsuit to protect you from 50 degree water can be $500+.  My first problem is that I have a difficult time justifying this expense.  But my big questions is simply, why?  Why should I do this in the first place?

You can’t tell me I will be doing triathlons in severe weather.  I have been at 3 triathlons that were canceled due to weather.  One of them switched from a triathlon to a duathlon due to bad water conditions.  So you can’t say it’s “training”.  Because you are training for something that will never happen.

I have a gym membership and I know how to use it.  For some people it is their resolution destination.  For me, it is “plan B”.  It is part of my equipment just like a bike or shoes.  It is a tool I use to limit excuses.  I don’t necessarily LIKE treadmills or the indoor track, but at least I can get my workout in safely.  I just don’t understand the risk of frostbite or heatstroke when you DON’T NEED TO…

Part of me feels like a real wimp for even saying this.  But when the weather man labels the forecast “extreme” or “dangerous”, and mentions “death” as a possible consequence of being out in it, I draw the line.  I didn’t used to feel that way.  And I’m still not scared off by less than optimal conditions.  I just have to ask myself if it’s really worth the risk to run on solid ice or bike in 100+ degree temps or swim in 50 degree water, etc.?  Really?  Why?

I think everybody has their own limits.  I know people who won’t run outside when it’s below 30 degrees but LOVE to run in the heat of a 100+ degree day.  Or that hate to swim in hot water.  Or who won’t ride a bike in the wind.  I guess you pick your poison.

Anyway, I choose life.  I’m headed to the gym for a 4 or 5 mile run on the indoor track and then I’ll do a spin class tonight.  And to all those who choose to push the extreme weather, good on you.  Just be safe…

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