Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Quit, and it Feels Soooooooo Good!

I have a theory about life and exercise, proven over and over throughout the past 10 years as I cycled in and out of the normal ups and downs of life, and my theory is this: the better my life is going in general, the worse my training is going. When life is crappy, working out is an outlet for all the negative energy that I would otherwise just sit at home and wallow in. It generates endorphins that make the crap feel not so crappy. Training for a race gives me the feeling that I can control something and be successful at something even if I have no control over, for example, the decision of someone else to walk out of my life. Those are all good things. But the corollary to this truth is that when life is going good, working out assumes a much smaller role and becomes much less important when compared to the things that are making life good.

Maybe this is not true for someone who actually enjoys working out, but we all know that I don't. Nothing more needs to be said about how much I don't, because I have said it all already. What has always kept me going is that being an endurance athlete is part of my identity, and having the body of an endurance athlete is part of it as well. But I am coming to believe that maybe other things are more important than that. We all have limited time to be alive, and even more limited time to be alive, healthy, and able to do whatever we want as long as whatever we want falls within our financial means. When looked at that way, I am beginning to think I can't justify any longer doing what I dread doing and don't get any enjoyment out of, when that stuff uses time that I could be using to do what I love doing and believe I am meant to be doing. Does that make sense?

What happened with my training schedule was that dread of it began taking over my life. I went to bed at night dreading the next morning's workout, and as soon as I had completed the morning workout I started dreading the afternoon one. I figured that would pass because it usually does once I get acclimated to the schedule. This one just got worse and worse. People pointed out to me that I did not have to do this, that no one was making me do it. I thought about how much I want to be able to some day say I'm an Ironman. I mean, it's one of my life goals! I only have three; can't I knock that one off? But life goals are subject to revision like any other goals. This one needed revision. (Besides, the pursuit of this one made it virtually impossible to pursue the other two.)

Making that decision, and tearing up my training schedule, was one of the best feelings I can remember. The freedom was pure joy. The fact that I can be sitting here writing in my blog with all the windows open on a beautiful, cool morning, drinking coffee and listening to the birds sing, instead of torturing myself through another dreaded ride or swim, is amazing. The fact that I can say yes when invited out for a drink is a big deal. Knowing that I can roll over in bed at 3:30 a.m. and know I don't have to force myself to put my swim suit on and drag myself to the pool is sublime.

I'm not quitting working out all the way. I couldn't; I can't get any fatter than I am right now just because I would have to buy all new clothes. I'm still going to run and still going to do long runs on the weekends and still keep on lazily pursuing my 50 States goal. Marathon training I can do, without too much difficulty. But no more obsessing over it. Instead, I am going to spend time writing (like I have every single day since I gave up the idea of the race) and training my dogs and enjoying the amazingness of my life here right now.

I think that is the smart thing to do, don't you all?

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